Andy Street visit Andy Street visit

Mayor praises ‘reborn’ £5.3m site as blueprint for ‘Brownfield First’

A scheme that is transforming a derelict piece of industrial land into affordable housing in Blakenall Heath has been hailed a perfect example of ‘Brownfield First’.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and a passionate protector of the region’s Green Belt, praised the work of Keon Homes during a recent visit to its £5.3m Canalside Close development being built in partnership with GreenSquareAccord (GSA).

The 33-strong mix of one, two-bed apartments and two and three-bed houses will give local people access to much-need high quality properties, with the emphasis on open spaces and creating a real community feel.

Furthermore, the development taps into the expertise of LoCaL Homes, an advanced housing manufacturer, to build the timber frame panels offsite, achieving low carbon housing solutions in the process.

Matt Beckley, Head of Development at Keon Homes, said: “It is built into our operating strategy that we are ‘Brownfield First’ and the development at Canalside Close shows why it is the right decision.

“This was a derelict piece of land in an area that desperately needed affordable housing. Working in partnership with GSA, LoCaL Homes and local authority partners we have brought it to life in a way that really benefits the local community.”

He went on to add: “We were delighted to show Andy Street how far the site has progressed and explain the importance of Government putting more funding aside and easing planning rules to breathe new life into brownfield sites. There are hundreds of these locations all over the Black Country and Birmingham.”

The recent visit was part of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s campaign to seek new powers to block controversial Green Belt developments – and reclaim even more derelict industrial sites.

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These powers could include using Compulsory Purchase to seize back land where a developer has failed to deliver and working with local authorities to take Green Belt sites out of local development plans.

Andy commented: “We need more developers like Keon Homes, who have the expertise to unlock complex parcels of land that are just wilting away. They understand the importance of ‘Brownfield First’ and Canalside Close is a perfect example of what can be achieved when a builder and a housing association tap into new modern methods of construction through a partner like LoCaL Homes.

“We will eventually have 33 new homes for individuals and families to enjoy – all benefitting from high energy efficiency that is so important during the current cost-of-living crisis.”

The new homes on Canalside Close will be built using low carbon LoCaL Homes Eco-200 off-site closed timber panel system, which is reducing construction times on site, and achieving overall savings in terms of carbon release.

The external wall panels will be finished with a brick slip system applied in the factory and will further improve both the quality and delivery of the development. Waste will also be dramatically reduced and will make for a much cleaner and safer site.

Mike Doolan, Sales and Partnership Manager at LoCaL Homes said “We recently had the pleasure of giving Mayor Street and his colleagues a tour around our award-winning factory in Walsall.

“It was great to follow up on this with a visit to the Canalside Close development where the West Midlands Mayor could see first-hand how LoCaL Homes’ off-site closed timber frames have been deployed.


“The future occupants of the homes at Canalside Close will benefit from reduced fuel bills thanks to fabric first design approach and thermal efficient materials used in construction.”

This process is now fully approved under the NHBC Accepts Service as an innovative building system and reinforces Keon Homes’ commitment to utilising new techniques that deliver sustainable performance.

Mike Nolan, Head of Development at GSA, said: “It is fantastic to see construction of the first homes at our Canalside development in Blakenall Heath now complete. It can only be good news for the local community that we are providing 33 new homes on an unused site, which had become a hot spot for fly tipping in recent years.

“Our new homes at Canalside Close will help to address local housing pressure without impacting on precious green spaces.”

From a start-up business in 2019, Keon Homes is now one of the Midlands’ fastest growing firms with this year’s anticipated turnover set to hit a record-breaking £50m.

A recent recruitment drive has taken the workforce to 51, 15% of whom are female (this number is growing) and nearly 30% employed as trainees and graduates.

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