The Brierley Hill Area Action Plan (AAP) was adopted by Dudley MBC in 2011 following a long process of revising the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy and the production of the Black Country Joint Core Strategy in 2010.
The AAP sets out the spatial plan and policies for the regeneration of Brierley Hill uniting the three poorly connected parts of the town: The Waterfront office development, the traditional Brierley Hill town centre, and the Merry Hill Centre.
It is a key document produced after a long period of consultation with stakeholders including local residents.
The plan can be read online at:
It sets out the vision for Brierley Hill:
By 2026, Brierley Hill will be a vibrant, inclusive and accessible strategic town centre embracing sustainable urban living, providing superb shops and office employment, leisure and cultural facilities. Strong, cohesive communities will have been created where everyone feels included and has easy access to the services and facilities they need to enjoy a good quality of life.
The town centre’s growth will maintain and enhance its function as a sub-regional shopping and employment centre and contribute to regeneration by complementing other centres in the West Midlands network of town and city centres. Unemployment will be addressed, and valuable skills training will be promoted through the regeneration of the area and enhanced enterprise.
Brierley Hill will promote sustainable living against the backdrop of the national and regional climate change strategy, and have the highest standards of design incorporating energy efficiency measures.
Brierley Hill will be recognised as having a high quality built and natural environment that respects and enhances local distinctiveness and the built heritage, including historic assets and the natural and regeneration assets of the canal network. A strong Green Infrastructure and wildlife corridor network will ensure a thriving natural environment.
The town centre will be supported by a highly integrated, high quality public transport system which offers people choice in where, when and how they travel which is complemented by car based demand management, appropriate car access and safe, efficient and attractive provision for movement by foot and cycle.
The connectivity and legibility of the Merry Hill / High Street / Waterfront triangle will be improved by creating a network of high quality routes and public spaces and a safe and attractive urban form. New development will enable the traditional High Street, Merry Hill Shopping Centre and the Waterfront to provide complementary functions and to be fully integrated into a new urban townscape.
It could be argued that all of the plan’s objectives are relevant to the local community. Specifically the objectives set out in Figure 8 of the AAP which are directly relevant to Community First are:
- Create a sustainable, cohesive and socially inclusive community by improving accessibility to jobs, shopping, education, health, open space and leisure/recreation facilities and ensure that Brierley Hill complements its surrounding areas.
- Protect and enhance the special role of Brierley Hill High Street in serving its local community
The Dudley Community Strategy 2010-2013 was produced by the Local Strategic Partnership. The purpose of the strategy “…is to bring together all positive aspects of borough living and use these strengths to improve the quality of living for everyone to enjoy.”
The plan can be accessed at http://www.dudleylsp.org/community-strategy-2010-2013/
The strategy derives strength by the depth and width of the process by which is was created:
“…over 5000 local people and more than forty community groups told us about their needs and desires for the future vision of the borough and the local areas in which they live and work. These results helped us to plan our objectives. The emerging vision was about promoting stronger communities by 2020”
It identifies six themes agreed themes which are all relevant to Community First:
- Jobs and prosperity
- Health and well being
- Culture and Leisure
- Environment and Housing
- Individual and Community learning
- Community Safety
The Strategic Health Inequalities Strategy 2010-2015 demonstrates that Brierley Hill tends has a higher standard mortality rate for than the borough average for both men and women.
- Give every child the best start in life
- Create fair employment and good work for all
- Ensure a healthy standard of living for all
- Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities
- Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention
The priorities for the borough are:
- Increase opportunities for active travel across the social gradient
- Maintain access and quality of open and green spaces across the social gradient
- Continue to improve the energy efficiency of housing and reducing fuel poverty
- Support locally developed and evidence based community regeneration programmes that reduce barriers to community participation and reduce social isolation
The Brierleyhillness project was funded by English Heritage and used a wide range of methods used to find out about Brierley Hill and its relationship to its residents – including mural painting, video surveys, poetry, the writing and performance of a play and drop in shops. The project took place during 20010/2011 and also examined how residents would wish to see developments take place in the town. Details of the project can be found at:
A number of surveys were conducted and:
- 200 residents responded to a digital survey
- 71 face to face interviews were conducted
- 76 respondents to self completion feedback following a play written and performed by local young people (One Boy. One Town. One Big Idea!)
- Questionnaires sent home with pupils from 4 local primary schools
Given the background to the project much of the work related to the heritage of the town. Results of the surveys showed:
- Strong support for new buildings complementing existing buildings in Brierley Hill (82%)
- 92% cared about what Brierley Hill looked like
- Good design of buildings was important
- Split on whether enough information on the history of the town was available for children (39% each)
- 66% said would like to know more about the history of Brierley Hill High Street and the Conservation Area
Other issues were examined too:
- 27% said they had been involved in giving their opinion about changes planned to the area
- 63% said they would like to be more involved in decision making.
- 100% of Brierley Hill residents agreed that arts and cultural events could help build a strong sense of community in the town
- 94% said they would like to see more cultural, arts and sporting activities in Brierley Hill
The Brierley Hill Arts and Creative Economy Strategy was commissioned by the former Brierley Hill Regeneration Partnership was was completed in 2008.
A wide range of local views were sought through vox pops, a consultation blog, consumer engagement initiatives, stakeholder interviews and workshops, industry profiling and the mapping of the sector.
The report based its conclusions around three six key themes:
Theme 1. Urban Design and the Built Environment.
A new strategic town centre needs to be rooted in strong urban design principles and driven by international competition. Strategic buildings and spaces need to designed and built for the production and consumption of art, culture and the creative economy.
Theme 2. Creative Spaces – Workspace and Community Art Facilities.
Brierley Hill has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop places and spaces for the production and consumption of Arts and Culture. There is an opportunity to plan for and build appropriate workspace for the 4-5% of the GDP that can be realistically be achieved by attracting and growing a strong creative economy.
Theme 3. Education and Opportunity for Young People.
Partners need to establish a Ladder of Opportunity from school, to colleges, to University and into the world of work and leisure. Talented individuals from all walks of life can be offered the chance to excel and transform their lives through the arts and make a contribution to the creative economy of Brierley Hill.
Theme 4. Connectivity, Communications and New Technology
Transport and connectivity are a real issue for Arts and Creative Economy. The Creative Economy thrives on connectivity, communications and a flow of people and information across the sector. The Arts & Creative Industries in Brierley Hill are stunted by a lack of physical and digital connectivity.
Theme 5. Arts, Culture, Enterprise and Regeneration Strategies
Dudley and Brierley Hill are failing to attract national and regional investment from public and private sector bodies. If Brierley Hill and Dudley are to receive a more equitable share of regional investment funds from Arts, Cultural and Economic Development agencies there needs to be an alignment of National, Regional and Local strategies for Art, Culture and the Creative Economy.
Theme 6. Delivery and Governance
There has been a lack of leadership, decision-making and clear governance of the arts and creative economy in Brierley Hill and Dudley Borough. Implementation of the recommendations of this strategy and action plan will only be delivered when ownership of it is taken by the partnership. Even then, the actions being played out over the next ten years and more, there is a danger that elements of this are lost, de-prioritise or neglected
The Living Well Feeling Safe (Ageing Well) project was completed in 2013 by Dudley Community Partnership and Dudley Council for Voluntary Service.
The project focussed on part of the Brierley Hill community – Brockmoor – which adjoins Brierley Hill ward. The panel felt that its conclusions would be equally applicable to Brockmoor residents’ neighbours in Brierley Hill.
The panel compared support networks within an affluent area of the borough (Pedmore) with those available for Brockmoor.
- In Brockmoor the level of connectivity appeared to be much less structured. Those activities which were mapped tended to be organised by external organisations and were often outside of the estate (actually located in Brierley Hill town centre)
- Serious consideration needs to be given on how to develop local informal networks
- The stakeholders who could support such a network need to be mapped
- Engaging volunteers, particularly younger ones emerged as a concern