Sparking growth and sustainability in the West Midlands

All this week we’ve been telling the story of SPARK, a best-in-class manufacturing and industrial logistics hub for Walsall, meeting the people behind the place as they share the story of its transformation.

Today, our colleague Justin Sheldon delves into SPARK’s role in the West Midlands, outlining just how the scheme will foster economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development.

The West Midlands knows how to appeal to the industrial sector; located right in the heart of the country, this is a region in which major motorways converge – a big pull for businesses seeking a logistical advantage.

So, it’s a joy right now to be leveraging potential at SPARK – a scheme I believe will usher in a new era for the West Midlands region thanks to the creation of 620,000 sq ft of new, sustainable, well-designed industrial space.

The project, with a Gross Development Value (GDV) exceeding £100 million, will positively impact the local area, generating over 1,100 jobs upon completion and contributing to the local economy.

The story so far

It was in 2021 that our work here began, when we were appointed by Walsall Council and Homes England to evolve plans and create a best-in-class manufacturing hub.

The first task was a challenging one; the land was formerly used for coal mining, as a municipal refuse centre, and even as an active copperworks two decades ago. All that meant complex remediation, with the site demanding significant attention before development could commence.

This was aided though by a grant from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The investment of course accelerated our remediation efforts, but it was also a clear sign of the prominence of this site, with Walsall Council, Homes England and now the WMCA all invested in its future.

A sparkling vision for the future

Fast forward to today, and we’ve submitted a planning application in the hope of moving forward with the main site works ahead of completion in 2025. That includes the creation of a versatile space and a mix of unit sizes – meaning that businesses of varying sizes will be able to call SPARK their home.

As is evident across our HBD portfolio, SPARK will also fly the flag for sustainability, with a commitment to achieve BREEAM excellent, EPC A, and Net Zero Carbon in construction. The project team also pledges to work closely with occupiers to ensure all buildings maintain Net Zero in operation.

There’ll be lots of green space too, and our plans will integrate landscaping and new habitats around the physical buildings – things like ponds, trees, and green spaces – while an additional £1 million will be invested in improving a stretch of the adjacent Walsall Canal.

We’re also consciously approaching this project, ensuring that the local community benefits as much as it can through job creation, training programmes, and other initiatives. My colleagues and I have already immersed ourselves locally, visiting schools and colleges – places like West Walsall E-ACT Academy and Jane Lane School – sharing our vision, and nurturing future talent.

SPARK is going to make an impact on every level. It’s much more than a development project; it’s a testament to collaboration, sustainability, and community engagement.

Our vision – and that of our partners at Homes England and Walsall Council – ensure that this industrial and manufacturing hub is poised to leave a lasting impact on the region, igniting economic growth and creating a legacy of purposeful development.

As SPARK Walsall takes shape, it not only transforms the landscape but also sets a new standard for responsible and visionary development.