The Great Places Commission visited Walsall, Castle Vale in Birmingham, and Coventry on 4-5 December to explore themes around housing, regeneration and community leadership.

In the West Midlands, the Commission was keen to understand:

  • the extent to which regeneration is being delivered through cross-sector partnerships
  • the long-term impact of properly resourced physical and community development
  • the challenges and opportunities facing civic leaders and communities at a time of profound economic and political change.

The Commissioners visited the Goscote Lane regeneration area, Castle Vale in Birmingham, and two sites in Coventry.

Watch our video to find out more about how housing associations in the West Midlands are supporting communities to drive local change.

Supporting communities to drive local change

Goscote Lane, Walsall

The Waters Keep development in Goscote

The Commissioners visited Walsall Housing Group's Goscote Lane regeneration scheme – the biggest regeneration scheme in the region which has already transformed several estates and neighbourhoods. The scheme is being delivered as a partnership between the local community, Walsall Housing Group, Walsall Council and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.

An interesting feature of the project is its 'Community Champion' model, whereby local residents are recruited to work with the community to ensure physical regeneration is accompanied by effective community investment and development. This, together with ongoing investment in the local community and voluntary sector, engagement with schools, and improvement to neighbourhoods, has been a key success factor for the scheme. The Community Champion model has since been rolled out across all of Walsall Housing Group's neighbourhoods.

Castle Vale, Birmingham

Castle Vale was built in the 1960s to house people during slum clearance, and suffered from a lack of investment and associated social and economic challenges. This began to turn around in the early 1990s with the creation of a Housing Action Trust, which was well-resourced and prioritised strong community leadership and engagement, marking a new era for Castle Vale.

Long-term physical regeneration and genuine community leadership has turned Castle Vale into an attractive, safe and desirable neighbourhood and an active community that is helping deliver change in the area. Castle Vale Community Housing Association grew out of the Housing Action Trust and has since become Pioneer Group. Working in close partnership with the community, local charities and social enterprises, Pioneer Group has helped deliver a number of important community assets, including a swimming pool and football stadium.

Watch our video to find out how housing associations like Pioneer Group are supporting young people to develop new skills and access opportunities:

Connecting young people with opportunities in Castle Vale, Birmingham


The Commission held a discussion with Professor Guy Daly, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Coventry University, and Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, to examine the housing challenges facing Coventry, including affordability, homelessness, poor-quality stock and overcrowding.

The Commissioners then visited two sites in the city, including the Spon End estate and the regenerated Spirit Quarters.

Read more

Read our full report to find out more about the Commission's visit to the West Midlands.