Words by Steve Sharma
Bosses at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have pledged £2million of financial support to help Witton Lodge Community Association transform the former Erdington Swimming Baths, Mason Road, into an Enterprise Hub for social entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Planning approval has now been granted by Birmingham City Council, who have submitted a revised Levelling Up Fund application to Central Government for regenerating Erdington High Street.
It is hoped the proposed new state-of-the-art facility will be the catalyst for economic growth and investment in the constituency.
The WMCA has now revealed that funds secured as part of its nationally acclaimed 2018 brownfield and housing delivery programme, have also been earmarked for the scheme.
Afzal Hussain, Chief Officer at Witton Lodge, said: “I’m delighted that we have achieved these important milestones in the creation of this exciting new hub.
“A first for North Birmingham, it will create jobs, promote enterprise and entrepreneurship, and offer relocation opportunities for existing businesses.
“Combined with other local facilities in the area we will create a Learning and Enterprise Quarter that will act as a catalyst for the wider transformation of Erdington Town Centre.”
The ambitious project is the latest in a series of WMCA housing and land investments using Government funds to provide new homes, jobs, and commercial spaces on brownfield sites, helping to support the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19 and to unlock private investment while reducing pressure on the green belt.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, added: “Transforming this site into a thriving enterprise hub will breathe new life into the heart of Erdington.
“It will create opportunity with brand new jobs that will regenerate the local community.
“It will also give local entrepreneurs and SME’s the chance to develop and grow, fuelling the reach and impact of social enterprise in the city.
“This is an example of how, across the West Midlands, the Combined Authority is committed to working in partnership with public, private and third sector organisations to unlock the potential of neglected buildings and locations to restore pride and aspiration.”
Both the High Street and old swimming baths regeneration plans also have the backing of MP for Erdington, Paulette Hamilton, who has worked with Witton Lodge and other constituency stakeholders since being elected in May.
Paulette Hamilton MP reiterated how vital it is that Erdington finally gets the financial recognition it needs to help fulfil its potential, to provide local residents and businesses with economic stability and success.
Sahe told: “These amazing plans have the potential to transform Erdington High Street and make it a destination again.
“The proposal to turn the former swimming baths site into a thriving business hub is exactly the sort of forward-thinking innovation we need in our area.
“Witton Lodge Community Association already do so much fantastic work in our community and I’m sure the new hub would bring enormous benefits for local people looking to develop their skills.
“Our High Street desperately needs this boost, and I’m crossing my fingers that Ministers will give it the green light.”
For more on the new Enterprise Hub visit www.erdingtonbaths.webflow.io