NIC Chair excited by city’s regeneration plans

(L-R): Julie Prescott, NIC Commissioner, Tim Johnson, CWC Managing Director, Phil Graham NIC Chief Executive, Sir John Armitt, NIC Chair
(L-R): Julie Prescott, NIC Commissioner, Tim Johnson, CWC Managing Director, Phil Graham NIC Chief Executive, Sir John Armitt, NIC Chair

City of Wolverhampton Council (CWC) and regional partners yesterday (Wednesday) played host to the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), Sir John Armitt, and his colleagues.

The NIC were given a tour of regeneration sites in Wolverhampton city centre, and then watched a presentation and took part in a round-table discussion at the Civic Centre.

CWC Managing Director, Tim Johnson, led the meeting, with the focus on plans for city infrastructure, housing and commercial opportunities.

Other partners around the table included the West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for the West Midlands, Homes England, Black Country Consortium and Walsall Council.

Sir John, the former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, the body which successfully built the venues, facilities and infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games, said: “The overall impression is one of the level of excitement and ambition you hear from people in Wolverhampton, which is clearly enormous.

“I just found the whole thing very exciting and a great example of what can be potentially achieved.

“I wish everyone the very best of success with this because all the ingredients seem to be there.

“Business confidence comes from whether local government can deliver the infrastructure and buildings and a skilled labour force.

“What impressed me so much was having so many people around the table from different elements and different departments and the determination to work together.”

Sir John was also full of praise for WV Living, the council’s own housing company, which will deliver more than 1,000 new homes over the next four years.

He added: “It’s good to hear the council has set up its own house building company because to my mind that is absolutely essential.

“You can’t rely on the private sector alone. The speed with which you need to move with housing does require that local authority drive and that local authority ability to just get on and build rather than just hang back and wait for a sale.

“You need to build – and the demand will certainly come.”

Tim Johnson said: “We were delighted Sir John and his colleagues from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) took the time to come and visit our city and find out about our expansive regeneration plans.

“The commission offers independent advice to the government on long term infrastructure needs in the UK and it is important its members are aware of what we are trying to achieve in our city and the wider region.

“Sir John and his colleagues were impressed by our plans and by how closely we are working with our regional partners to make things happen.”

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