Building schemes in Sandwell win praise from Black Country Garden City Panel

Published 8th July 2019

Two innovative housing schemes in Sandwell have been awarded prestigious Black Country Garden City status by a panel of planning and regeneration experts.

They are a new £9.6 million supported living scheme off Oxford Road, West Bromwich, built by Engie on behalf of Sandwell Council, and a development of private homes, Regis Park in Doulton Road, Rowley Regis, built by Countryside.

The accreditations follow visits to both projects by the Black Country Garden City panel, part of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.

The schemes were assessed against a rigorous scoring system measuring them against ten Garden City design principles with those scoring more than 25 points – out of a possible 40 points – accredited as a Black Country Garden City development.

Projects have to demonstrate how they are: using under-used land assets, making the most of Black Country assets, well-connected by all modes of transport, have access to facilities and services, a clear identity, supporting new businesses, involve residents managing their communities, harnessing technological innovation and promoting healthy lifestyles.

The panel praised the partnership approach of  numerous council teams who worked together to design, plan and deliver the Oxford Road development – which scored 29 points – which contributes to the ambitions of the Council's 2030 Vision.

The supported living scheme features 93 homes for rent made up of 35 bungalows and 58 apartments, with four of the bungalows and four of the flats especially designed for wheelchair users.

They were also impressed with teams’ knowledge of the brief and the level of detail of the scheme focusing strongly on tenants’ needs, as well as how the build was managed ensuring a high quality standard.

The Doulton Road scheme, a private housing development built by Countryside in Rowley Regis, achieved 26 points and was praised for the physical layout of the site and the high quality of its soft landscaping.

Sandwell Council’s planning team also advised Countryside with the council’s building control team approving the building regulations for the development.

Councillor Bob Lloyd, cabinet member for inclusive economic growth, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for the council and Countryside. Oxford Road and Regis Park are two very different developments but in the eyes of the Black Country Garden City panel they both demonstrate many of the recognised principles of ‘Garden City’ design.

“I would like to congratulate all the teams who have been involved in these schemes. It’s a great advertisement for partnership working with many specialist in-house teams – planning, housing, architects and adult services as well as urban design and highways – all working together for the same end result – quality homes in Sandwell.

"These are the first two schemes which Sandwell has submitted to the panel, it's great to achieve such a positive result, hopefully these are only the first of many."

Gary Belcher, regional operations director for Partnerships Midlands, Countryside, said: "We are extremely proud to achieve Black Country Garden City status for Regis Park. Every aspect of the development in Rowley Regis, from the character of the homes to the detailing of landscapes, has been designed to create places people love and neighbourhoods they can call home."

Chris Handy, board member Black Country LEP, added: "It is great news that two more Black Country housing developments have been awarded Black Country Garden City status. 

"I am particularly delighted that these two schemes demonstrate the range of developments that are eligible for Garden City status – a supported living scheme in West Bromwich and a development of private homes in Rowley Regis.

"It is fantastic to see so many projects coming forward which we hope encourages more people to choose the Black Country as a place to live."

There are only four other schemes in the Black Country (three in Wolverhampton and one in Walsall) so far, which have been awarded the accreditation by the Black Country Garden City panel.