Plans to transform two Black Country towns are a step closer after backing from the government and planners.
The ambitious £400million Walsall Gigaport proposals have been given a boost after the government chose not to “call in” the scheme while a project to transform Stourbridge has been approved by Dudley Council.
The Walsall Gigaport will see the creation of a new business quarter with super-fast communications technology it is claimed will transform the Black Country town’s economy. The outline permission is for 127,000 sq m of high quality offices, including a Business Incubation Centre, a data centre, a hotel, live/work space and a health and sports facility centred around a new Walsall College campus. The development could bring up to 3,000 new jobs.
The regeneration of the borough, sparked by the development of the New Art Gallery a decade ago, will see a major canalside redevelopment by Urban Splash and a radically improved road network with the main Wolverhampton Road linking the M6 to a new LA-style intersection in the town centre. Ben Reid, chairman of Walsall Regeneration Company (WRC) which is driving the project, welcomed the secretary of state’s decision as a clear demonstration of the government’s confidence in Walsall’s plans.
He said: “This is great news and even more significant in the current economic climate.
“Gigaport is a major transformational project that will help us attract new industries, create high quality jobs and better equip Walsall to compete in a global marketplace.
“We are delighted the planning process has gone smoothly and we can press ahead with bringing developers and investors on board.”
The development by Modus to extend its £50million Crown Centre in Stourbridge has been given the green light by planners Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council subject to its referral to the secretary of state via the Government Office for the West Midlands.
The planning permission involves the redesign and extension of The Crown Centre, anchored by an 80,000 sq ft Tesco, a 15,000 sq ft Market Hall with a 458-space car park, six shops and 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel.
Modus, which bought the centre in 2006, believes the scheme will improve the pedestrian linkage between Bell Street and the Town Centre.