The West Midlands Combined Authority’s investment will benefit the Victorian Globe House in Walsall and the derelict former Erdington Baths in Birmingham.
As part of its nationally recognized brownfield regeneration and provisioning program, and using funds from the 2018 Housing Deal, the WMCA Board has agreed in principle to make investments that will boost both programs and breathe new life into the historic buildings and create more than 150 jobs and 35 new homes in the heart of Erdington and Walsall.
The Erdington project will transform the ‘landmark’ former swimming pools on Mason Road into a corporate and community center with community facilities including a restaurant and cafe.
Erdington Baths, nearly 100 years old, have been empty since they closed in 2014.
The Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) has submitted exciting plans for a multi-million pound redevelopment that will transform it into a multi-purpose site with a focus on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The ornate Globe House in Walsall, a Grade I listed building on Bradford Place, will be converted from offices to 35 apartments. At least 20 percent of the housing is classified as affordable according to the WMCA’s own definition, which is linked to real local wages rather than property prices.
The Globe House, built in 1888 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee last year, served as a college for more than a century before being converted into offices.
This new residential conversion will create a new use for the building and support the Housing and Land Authority’s WMCA policy to promote city center living through its brownfield investments.
Both projects are the latest in a series of WMCA housing and land investments that have used government-backed funds since 2017 to create new housing, jobs and commercial space on urban wasteland, helping to support the region’s economic recovery of Covid-19 and to unlock private investment while relieving the green belt.
The board’s decision will now trigger detailed negotiations between the WMCA and the developers to finalize the critical investment deals needed to unlock and implement the plans.
The WMCA works closely with Birmingham City Council to advance the Erdington Baths program and with Walsall Council and Black Country LEP on the Globe House project.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said: “With the investments we are making at both Erdington Baths and Globe House, we are helping to transform derelict sites into thriving centers of local life that urgently need… creating needed jobs and housing in the heart of these communities.
“It is great news that at the same time as this vital renewal we are preserving these beautiful historic buildings for future generations to enjoy – building on our support for the sensitive restoration of two historic buildings on Corporation Street in Birmingham.
“By partnering the public, private and third sectors in the West Midlands, we are unlocking the potential of previously neglected locations to boost development of our region – creating jobs for local residents and protecting the greenbelt.”
According to a report to the WMCA Board of Directors, the facade and historic features of Globe House, located near the Cenotaph and Saddlers Center in Walsall town centre, would remain largely unchanged with the proposed conversion to apartments.
The derelict Erdington Baths, said to be in a state of disrepair, would undergo a sensitive transformation to provide affordable work and meeting spaces for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as individuals and community groups.
This includes meeting rooms and breakout areas, a co-working space as well as an events area and a stage. Other common areas would include a restaurant, bar and cafe, a communal garden in front of the baths and a rear outbuilding used as a ‘marketplace’.
Councilor Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio owner for homes and land and Chair of Walsall Council, said: “Globe House and Erdington Baths demonstrate how we are putting our money to good use to drive a successful economic recovery and protect our local heritage.
“Even during the pandemic, WMCA has continued to make a number of investments to boost market confidence and support the region’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery plans.
“We believe these two projects can play a key role in restoring and revitalizing not only the two buildings themselves, but also the surrounding areas.”