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Brierley Hill will get a slightly late but very welcome Christmas present on Saturday with £9.98million Government funding to help transform the High Street.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick will announce that Brierley Hill is one of just fifteen towns to have their bids for the new Future High Streets Fund approved in full.
The award marks a big turnaround after Brierley Hill’s initial bid failed to progress past the first stage in 2019 and the success is the result of a new improved bid and sustained campaigning by local MP Mike Wood.
The near £10 million investment for Brierley Hill – part of a £45million programme to redevelop the town centre – is in addition to the £1.8 million secured from the Government’s Heritage Action Zone programme earlier in the year.
Dudley South MP Mike Wood – who has been working to secure investment to regenerate the High Street since he was first elected in 2015 – welcomed the new funding, saying:
“It might be a day late, but this is the best Christmas present that our local economy and communities could have wished for at the end of such a difficult year for so many people and businesses.
“Everybody who has lived in the area knows the struggles that Brierley Hill town centre has faced – going back fifty years to the decline of the Round Oak Steel Works and Marsh & Baxter factory, which was followed by increased competition from the Merry Hill Centre, and now people increasingly shopping online.
“Our local High Streets are crucial not only as sources of jobs and prosperity, but because of how important they are to our local communities’ identities.
“That’s why since being first elected in 2015, I have pushed for investment to reverse this decline while we still have a High Street to save. Together, we have secured massive investment to support local jobs and small businesses at the DY5 Enterprise Zone, the £450 million Metro Extension, and £1.8 million of Heritage Action Zone funding, and we now have this crucial £9.98 million to transform Brierley Hill Town Centre and bring all of these projects together.
“This has been a fantastic team effort and I am extremely grateful for the work done by Dudley Council to coordinate the successful improved bid, by Tim Sunter and the Brierley Hill Community Forum, and to our excellent West Midlands Mayor Andy Street who has supported us from day one.
“This funding will go a long way in turning Brierley Hill into a more attractive place to shop, work and live and that is fantastic news for our whole area.”
Key to the transformation will be works to the high street to improve connectivity and integration with the new Metro terminus – making it easier for shoppers to travel between various points of interest by foot, road and Metro.
The now somewhat tired looking town library will be refurbished, and public toilets will again be reopened in the town centre.
The funding also allows for the redevelopment of the Moor Centre and long-term vacant land known as “Daniel’s land” which is located between the Brierley Hill Health and Social Care Centre and the Dudley canal which faces down toward Merry Hill.
Part of the plan will be to deliver 270 mixed tenure homes on underused land close to the high street in order to encourage improved footfall and visitor spending. The sites will be developed to provide affordable housing to meet local needs and new owner-occupied homes to introduce new income groups to the area.
The total programme, which works out to some £45 million, will be carried out in phases and it is expected that some early works may begin as soon as Summer 2021 – following a consultation with local businesses in order to minimise any disruption to their trade.
Announcing the funding for Brierley Hill Town Centre, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
“The role of high street has always evolved. We want to support that change and make sure that they are the beating heart of their local community – with high quality housing and leisure in addition to shops and restaurants.
“This investment will help us build back better.”
Together, we have secured massive investment to support local jobs and small businesses at the DY5 Enterprise Zone, the £450 million Metro Extension, and £1.8 million of Heritage Action Zone funding, and we now have this crucial £9.98 million to transform Brierley Hill Town Centre and bring all of these projects together.
This funding will go a long way in turning Brierley Hill into a more attractive place to shop, work and live and that is fantastic news for our whole area.