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New national brownfield research centre launched to tackle housing shortage

It will be based at the University of Wolverhampton’s new Springfield Campus, which itself is a 12 acre £100m brownfield regeneration project in Wolverhampton city centre and will be housed alongside the University’s new School of Architecture and Built Environment.

The centre will be home to a team of specialist researchers, consultants and industry experts who will advise on all aspects of brownfield development from dealing with contaminated land to repurposing buildings and sites. They will also explore new construction methods such as modular housing.

The university is already working on a digital map which identifies potential brownfield sites for development.

The authority has set an ambitious target to build 215,000 new homes by 2031 to help solve the region’s housing shortage.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said  ‘The institute and training fund will help safeguard and nurture our region’s most important assets – its people and land – helping to give everyone the opportunity of a decent job and an affordable home.

‘The West Midlands economy is going from strength to strength but that growth brings its own pressures and we need to build 215,000 new homes by 2031 to meet our future housing and economic needs.

‘But we also need to make sure local people have those skills most needed by house builders and companies building the big transport infrastructure schemes and commercial developments coming on stream.

‘At the moment many are struggling to find local people to fill those jobs so this new training fund will involve working closely with the construction industry to close that skills gap.’

Professor Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: ‘Our vision for Springfield is that it becomes a hub for excellence in construction and the built environment on a national and even international scale.

‘The National Brownfield Institute is a major part of these plans and we see it as being very much a beacon for skills, providing solutions through innovation and new technology for the sector as a whole.

‘There is a huge amount of brownfield land across the Black Country and wider West Midlands and we are looking forward to helping play an integral role in identifying and unlocking that land’s potential for regeneration and in particular supporting ways to address the housing shortage.

It is part of wider plan to help regenerate Wolverhampton including the redevelopment of Canalside, the £55m Westside development in the city centre and the ongoing £150m Wolverhampton Interchange project.

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