A new £9 million fund has been unveiled to get stalled housing sites moving to combat a widening shortage in the region.

The Unlocking Housing Sites Programme will help to bring forward at least 500 new homes in the area.

It can be accessed by housing developers in greater Birmingham, Solihull, South Staffordshire and north Worcestershire.

It comes amid rampant demand for new houses with the population of Birmingham alone expected to grow by the equivalent population of Oxford over the next 16 years – a total of 150,000 people.

Unlocking Housing Sites has been launched by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to deliver targeted assistance to stalled sites which are ready for development.

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The programme is intended to support schemes of between ten and 100 homes.

Andy Street, chairman of the GBSLEP, said: “It is an economic imperative that we quicken the pace of house building in the region. This LEP fund is designed to address the reasons some potential housing sites have not been developed and will therefore contribute to the overall goal of increasing the number of new homes available in the area.”

The programme is open to private sector developers, local authorities and registered providers for developments in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s geographical area.

It comes amid huge demand for housing with a target of 80,000 new homes in Birmingham alone by 2031.

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Coun Tahir Ali, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for development, transport and the economy, said he felt this programme would go some way to alleviating the issue.

He said: “I welcome the launch of this new housing fund. It is fantastic news for the region and builds on the forward-thinking work we are already doing in Birmingham through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust to close the housing gap and bring high quality, affordable housing to families across the city.”