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EXPRESS & STAR | TUESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2022

Ready for action as Sandwell all set to
welcome the Commonwealth Games
JOHN CORSER

john.corser@mnamedia.co.uk

The Birmingham 2022
Commonwealth Games
are coming this summer.

Sandwell is proud to have the
only venue built especially for the
Games, hosting the diving, swimming and para swimming events.
At the Sandwell Aquatics Centre
in Smethwick, the competition and
diving pools are fully tiled, and
steps have been added to the 10m
dive tower. Soon permanent seating
will be installed, and the pools filled
for the first time, ready for international athletes to take their marks.
Sandwell Aquatics Centre will
be in use for the full 11 days of the
competition – and its legacy will
last for decades, as local people and
visitors enjoy the health and social
benefits of having world-class facilities in Sandwell.

Further transformations
through the Towns Fund

Sandwell Aquatics Centre is one
of many exciting things happening
in Sandwell. In 2019, the government announced the ‘Towns Fund’
programme to support local economic growth across England. West
Bromwich, Smethwick and Rowley
Regis were among 101 places invited to submit proposals – and they
were successful.
Subject to approval of full business cases, Sandwell is to receive
£67.5 million for regeneration projects in West Bromwich (£25m),
Smethwick (£23.5m) and Rowley
Regis (£19m). These span education, transportation, digital skills
and housing and will bring improvements to parks, canal routes and
local environment. In 2020, each of
the 101 places received ‘accelerated
funding’ for projects with immediate impact, helping them build back
better from the pandemic.
Thanks to this, Sandwell is already benefitting from improved
walking and cycling routes, and
upgrades to Rowley Regis parks.
In West Bromwich, outdoor market stalls with solar panels are
now generating their own electricity. Smethwick has a new two-way
cycle lane; the first phase of a programme to boost connectivity between Smethwick Galton Bridge
and the new housing development
at Grove Lane.

West Bromwich Towns
Fund

Having received approval from
its cabinet, Sandwell Council is now
seeking government go-ahead on
three projects:
l A Digital Den, led by Greets
Green Community Enterprises,
will offer digital training and local access to online resources and
education, boosting the skills of
Sandwell residents while reducing
digital exclusion.
l The Sandwell Civil and Mechanical Engineering Centre will

Britannia Park in Rowley Regis

The new Sandwell Aquatics Centre at Londonderry Lane, Smethwick, will be the scene of Games competition

West Bromwich High Street will be seeing improvements
be a new technical campus for
Sandwell College, bringing learning
opportunities and apprenticeships
in engineering, advanced manufacturing, civil engineering, construction and hybrid electric vehicles for
young people and adults, including
those currently unemployed.
l The Urban Greening Project
seeks to create a ‘green link’ from
the town centre to Dartmouth Park,
with street trees, green spaces, play
spaces, seating, lighting, vegetable
planters, flower boxes and wildflower areas. A cultural programme will
encourage people to engage in green
workshops and hands-on activities.
Sandwell Council and partners
are preparing full business cases
for the West Bromwich Town Hall
Quarter Project, consisting of the
internal and external refurbishment of West Bromwich Town Hall
and the internal refurbishment
of Central Library. They are also
working on proposals for a ‘Retail
Diversification Project’, which will

deliver high-quality housing and
help meet demand for town centre
living. Meanwhile, the Walking and
Cycling Infrastructure Project in
West Bromwich will increase people’s options for sustainable travel.

Smethwick Towns Fund
In Smethwick, Sandwell Council
is proposing a new Midland Metropolitan Learning Campus adjacent
to the new hospital, in collaboration
with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, Sandwell College,
the University of Wolverhampton
and Aston University. The campus
will offer training at all levels in
healthcare and related professions,
enabling local people to access employment in the new hospital and
beyond. It will deliver university-level learning in Sandwell for the
first time. There are plans to extend
Smethwick’s Ron Davis Centre, expanding on the services it already
offers, and giving local people ac-

The aquatics centre will be ready for this summer’s Commonwealth Games
cess to modern learning facilities.
The Smethwick Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Project will
boost access and connectivity within Smethwick, improving safety for
pedestrians and cyclists. Currently,
Sandwell does not have enough sites
to meet the demand for new homes.
Two Smethwick schemes will seek
to address this:
l Rolfe Street Canalside Regeneration Project (which will see the
demolition of the Smethwick Enterprise Centre, and remediation of
the site for development).
l The Grove Lane Regeneration
Project near the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital.

Rowley Regis Towns
Fund
Sandwell College has plans to develop a Satellite Education Hub in
Cradley Heath where adult learners can gain new skills and take
advantage of local employment

opportunities. The hub will also
be available for community groups
and activities. To encourage walking and cycling and better connections, the Canal Network Connectivity Project proposes around 7km
of resurfacing for canal towpaths
alongside the Dudley No 2 in Old
Hill and the Old Main Line in Oldbury. Sandwell Council also seeks
better accessibility and improved
walking routes throughout Cradley Heath, Blackheath and Oldbury
through the Rowley Regis Walking
and Cycling Infrastructure Project.
In Blackheath, major improvements
are planned to Britannia Park,
bringing new changing rooms, car
parking, upgraded play and fitness
equipment (including a skate park),
allotments and a contemplation
garden. Finally, the town centre
will be enhanced with a new bus
interchange, pedestrian space and
redesigned Market Place, under the
Blackheath Bus Interchange Project.