We support the Towns Fund investment in Sandwell
Sandwell’s Towns Fund projects are close to the hearts of the Sandwell Business Ambassadors. Chris Hinson, John Wood DL and our chair Alan Taylor are all on boards set up to ensure the investment brings the greatest possible impact to Sandwell.
Here we explain what the Towns Fund is, and also what the funding means to Sandwell.
What is the Towns Fund?
In 2020, the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)* selected 101 places to bid for ‘Towns Fund’ investment. The government’s idea was for those places to come up with regeneration plans that would boost businesses, improve infrastructure, encourage enterprise and bring communities together.
*Then, it was called the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government.
Towns Fund projects in Sandwell
Our Sandwell towns of Rowley Regis, Smethwick and West Bromwich were among those 101 places.
So Sandwell Council worked in partnership with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, Canal & River Trust, Greets Green Community Enterprise Centre and Sandwell College to bid for a possible total of £67.5m for the three towns in Sandwell.
This was the largest amount for any local authority area under the Towns Fund programme.
In March 2021, we heard that all three Sandwell Towns Fund bids had been successful. Rowley Regis was to receive £19m, Smethwick £23.5m and West Bromwich £25m.
Following that, Sandwell Council and partners worked on detailed proposals for sixteen Towns Fund projects across the three towns. In March 2022, Sandwell submitted its final Towns Fund proposals to government.
Towns Fund approvals
In June 2022 we heard that all sixteen of Sandwell’s Towns Fund proposals had been approved by central government.
The proposals are as follows (with the lead organisation given in brackets):
• Digital Den (Greets Green Community Enterprise) – at Woods Lane Community Centre in West Bromwich. Supporting people to get online and improving access to jobs.
• Sandwell Civil and Mechanical Engineering Centre – Sandwell MEC (Sandwell College). Building a new technical campus on West Bromwich High Street to provide opportunities in engineering, advanced manufacturing, civil engineering, construction and hybrid electric vehicles.
• West Bromwich Urban Greening (Sandwell Council). Improving existing green space and the appearance of the town centre, including new trees, parklets, play space and better links to Sandwell Valley, plus a cultural programme.
The Towns Fund has part-funded the Digital Den and Sandwell MEC projects, with Greets Green Community Enterprise and Sandwell College providing match funding.
• West Bromwich Town Hall Quarter Project (Sandwell Council)
• Retail Diversification Programme, West Bromwich (Sandwell Council)
• West Bromwich Connected (Sandwell Council).
• Ron Davis Centre Expansion, Smethwick (Sandwell Council)
• Midland Met Learning Campus, Smethwick (Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust)
• Grove Lane Regeneration, Smethwick (Sandwell Council)
• Rolfe Street Canalside Regeneration, Smethwick (Sandwell Council)
• Smethwick Connected (Sandwell Council).
• Britannia Park Community Hub, Rowley Regis (Sandwell Council)
• Canal Network Connectivity, Rowley Regis (Canal & River Trust)
• Rowley Regis Satellite Education Hub (Sandwell College)
• Blackheath Bus Interchange and Public Realm, Rowley Regis (Sandwell Council)
• Rowley Regis Connected (Sandwell Council).
The various partners will deliver the Sandwell Towns Fund projects in phases over the next five years.