HBD’s vision for SPARK Walsall is to create a best-in-class manufacturing and industrial logistics hub, for the region, delivering over 620,000 sq ft of new industrial floorspace to support the local economy. With a GDV of over £100m it is predicted to generate up to 1,100 jobs when complete.
HBD was appointed to undertake this development by Walsall Council and Homes England; as master developer HBD is undertaking the planning, site remediation, design, funding and construction of the scheme together with marketing on completion.
Right now, the first part of the brief is being fulfilled, with HBD commencing site enabling and preparation works to get it ready for development – something in part funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority which in 2021 committed to a multi-million-pound deal to fund the clean-up of the land. This was no easy task given the brownfield site’s history, with land that had been used for coal mining, as a municipal refuse centre and, as recently as twenty years ago as an active copper manufacturing works. All this rich industrial history meant that the land needed remediation before development could take place.
In 2024 HBD will complete that initial two-year programme of land work and the site will be ready for active development. Once again having worked in seamless collaboration with two great partners, HBD will take ownership of the site from Homes England and Walsall Council to unleash the full vision for Walsall. Working with local architect practice Cunniff Design, HBD is delivering a mix of unit sizes and appeal to occupiers with requirements from 315,000 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft – giving a full range of options for businesses of all sizes and with the needs of modern occupiers in mind. The buildings will of course be highly sustainable, with HBD targeting BREEAM excellent, EPC A, Net Zero Carbon in construction; the team will also work with occupiers to ensure all buildings are Net Zero in operation.
Those occupiers will also benefit from SPARK’s great location close to Birmingham and alongside J9 and 10 of the M6 – with easy access to the M5. Future improvements that will enhance SPARK include upgrade works to J10 of the M6 and a brand-new rail station at nearby Darlaston.
The team has also looked to add value to the scheme and minimise risks every step of the way, undertaking extensive consultation with local stakeholders and neighbours at every stage. In fact by altering the site boundary (with no impact) an extra parcel of land was included which took the overall size from 475,000 sq ft to 620,000 sq ft. HBD is also delivering over £1m of improvement works to the canal that runs beside the site, reinforcing the walls to improve the structural integrity.
Delivering social value to the local area is central to the delivery at every stage and is a core thread in HBDs pledge to deliver places with purpose. Local jobs, training and opportunities will be provided across a range of sectors and specialisms.
To the north of the site is West Walsall E-ACT Academy and HBD’s project team has been working with them to show the students what is being delivered, introduce them to the development industry, helping to educate and inspire future talent from a young age. Members of the team have also been helping Jane Lane School in Walsall with the re-establishment of the school allotment working closely with children from year 10 and 11, many of whom have a range of special educational needs.
Once properly onsite and development is underway HBD will also be adding an array of landscaping and creating habitats to nurture wildlife, including ponds, trees and green areas – making SPARK a great place for everyone.