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TRANSPORT PLAN AIMS TO HALT 'PEOPLE LEAKAGE' FROM BLACK COUNTRY

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A plan to concentrate the future development of the Black Country into areas well-served by public transport has be...
A plan to concentrate the future development of the Black Country into areas well-served by public transport has been backed by the region's public transport promotion organisation, Centro PTA, ahead of its consideration by the government.

'This is a bold and ambitious plan for the regeneration of the Black Country,' said Centro-PTA chairman Gary Clarke. 'The strategy is based on creating strong and vibrant centres which will be well-connected by transport networks. That gives local people the best access to jobs, shopping and leisure opportunities.'

The four strategic centres identified by the Black Country Consortium and local councils are Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Bromwich and Brierley Hill / Merry Hill. The growth corridors between these are closely matched by existing and planned Midland Metro lines.

'Integrating land use and transport planning in this way is the best approach to support economic development in the city region. By focusing particularly on bus, train and tram routes it is also the most environment-friendly approach,' added Mr Clarke.

The plan being discussed is a review of the Regional Spatial Strategy following the Black Country study. A formal draft version is open for consultation until 23 August.

One of the key issues identified is the need to prevent the 'leakage' of people and jobs from the area. Planners acknowledge that improving access between homes and employment opportunities within the four Black Country districts will be important to reverse the trend.

A report on the issue is to be considered by Centro-PTA councillors at an authority meeting next Monday. They are being recommended to welcome the strategy review and their comments on the draft will be fed to the Black Country Consortium, along with the views of other organisations, before a public inquiry is conducted early next year.

The Centro-PTA boss has stressed the need for funding to be identified to make sure transport improvements do not get left behind.

'It is essential that an effective transport system, with public transport improvements, is an absolute pre-condition of the economic regeneration of the Black Country,' said the report that will go to Monday's meeting. 'It must not be possible to 'un-pick' the strategy at some stage in the future by planning to deliver the redevelopment with the accompanying transport infrastructure - the two are inextricably linked.'

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