The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has named a former Number 10 policy chief as its interim housing director.
John Godfrey, now Legal & General’s director of levelling up, will oversee the combined authority’s work to unlock new brownfield sites for development as interim director of housing, placemaking and regeneration.
Godfrey, who was the head of policy at Number 10 under Theresa May’s government, has been seconded from Legal & General until the end of December, while the WMCA looks to appoint a permanent director.
He is also chair and co-founder of Business for Health.
“This is a region which is fast-becoming a best-in-class blueprint for devolution, public-private partnerships and levelling up,” Godfrey said.
“Just as the West Midlands led the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, so too is it laying trailblazing foundations that will cement its status as the birthplace of a new, Green Industrial Revolution of the 21st Century.
“Through the delivery of high-quality, affordable and sustainable new housing, the retrofitting of existing stock and the unlocking of swathes of brownfield land for a range of regeneration projects, the West Midlands is without a doubt becoming fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous for all.”
The appointment comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced an historic Deeper Devolution Deal for the West Midlands during the Spring Budget back in March.
The deal, which secured up to £500m to support housing and regeneration projects throughout the region, secured a “dramatic” transfer of powers from Whitehall to the WMCA.
They included confirmation that the new Affordable Housing Programme will be fully devolved to the West Midlands by 2026 – London is the only city that benefits from such a region at present – as well as the first-ever Land Reform Partnership with central government, giving the WMCA a say on all disposals of public land across the region.
In May this year, the combined authority announced real estate business SEGRO as a strategic partner, with a commitment to invest £2bn over the coming decade to deliver “next-generation, net zero warehouse facilities” across the West Midlands.
And last year, Legal & General and the WMCA signed a partnership agreement committing to invest £4bn in regeneration, housing and levelling up across the region.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Our region has been at the very forefront of the Levelling Up agenda – with our mission to unlock brownfield sites for development and provide much-needed affordable housing playing a central part in that story.
“Following the historic Deeper Devolution Deal agreed with government back in March and a range of strategic partnerships with the private sector now in place, we’re well placed to double down on our progress to date – driving prosperity for local people right across our region.
“To have John Godfrey’s expertise on board at this critical juncture is a real win. It will further solidify our position as an exemplar region in the months and years ahead. I look forward to working with John as we continue to deliver for the West Midlands.”
Main image: John Godfrey, interim director of housing, placemaking and regeneration, WMCA
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