Birmingham Council Boss Tells Developers To Get Moving, Or Else
The official in charge of writing Birmingham’s new development plan has hit out at developers for failures of commitment, and he warned that track records will be relevant when Birmingham City Council comes to explore partnerships to exploit its vast landholdings.
Birmingham City Council Assistant Director of Planning and development Simon Delahunty-Forrest told Bisnow that he was “frustrated” with developers and would be using new levers to ensure action. He also fired a shot across the bows of residential developers who are not meeting the requirement to include affordable housing.
“I’ve been in position 18 months and what frustrates me is that I want to see development happen more quickly where we’ve granted a planning ticket, or when the council sell land," he said. "We have a lot of good developers, and I don’t want to tar everyone with the same brush, but this is a real frustration.
“There are some plots that have been waiting for many years, and I want to see developers step forward and grab those opportunities. I know there are also developers who agree and find it frustrating that their peers are not moving faster.”
Birmingham landowners were also warned about the forthcoming plan to dispose of, or develop, the city council’s vast landholdings, including many prominent sites.
“We are completing a deep-dive asset review, and looking again at how we react to sites, and how we go to market," he said. "The question we’re asking is, do we go to the highest bidder or are there other things or mechanisms we need to look at? Could it be working in partnership, or could it be about creating and consolidating larger sites to make them more attractive, and I think looking at developer’s track records has also got to be part of this.
“We are going to get smarter about dealing with land and yes, we want more leverage. Residential developers also have to grasp that including 10% affordable housing in schemes is not good enough, and they have to get closer to 30%.”
The framework envisages the city centre breaking out from within the Middle Ring Road. This means strengthening the links with the city centre and its integration with surrounding inner city suburbs such as Aston, Nechells, Balsall Heath, Small Heath and Sparkbrook.
Launching the document, council leaders said the ambitious strategy focuses on creating people-centred environments, more affordable housing, opportunities for growth in emerging green industries, improving health and wellbeing through access to green spaces, and making cycling and walking easier, safer and more attractive.