Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:05 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Andy Street:

I will give you a straight answer to the question in one moment if I may, Mr Andrew, but let me give a bit of general context. This, I think, is a very good example of where the combined authority has been able to demonstrate the fundamental principle that each can achieve things that individual local authorities working on their own probably would not have done. Of course, the critical point is that we achieve it by working with our local authorities, but we can clearly demonstrate that we have brought additional firepower.

The stats are very clear: we have hit our housing target in this region over the last four or five years, and we had, pre pandemic, doubled the number of homes being built every year in this region. One way that we were able to do that is, of course, working with central Government by deploying the brownfield land funding that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had allocated to us in various tranches. We have made the existing system work, and very clearly we probably would not have had a negotiation—for example, Walsall or Wolverhampton separately—with DLUHC had we not existed.

Coming to your question, we are doing this against a good backdrop. We hope we will win further funding in due course to advance this even further, but on the reforms in the paper—it is a general question—essentially I would be supportive of them because they do bring simplicity to the operation. I do think that one of the challenges we constantly face is the time difficulty in drawing these items to a conclusion.