|The Story of the Lyng Community Association and it’s Regeneration.The old Lyng estate was built in the 1960s and its design was typical of that era, with a mix of maisonettes, flats, tunnel walkways, underground car parks and areas of public open space.But over the decades, as the buildings started decaying, so did the estate’s reputation.
LCA led the campaign to clear the old site and start afresh, building 86 new houses and apartments for affordable rent in the first phase.
Redevelopment is now nearing completion, to provide a total of 200 homes for affordable rent and 250 for private sale.
A popular new play area has opened and an adventure playground has been built at Lyng Primary School. Three new parks are also being created.
Also on the estate is a new £12 million Primary Care Centre, one of the largest in Britain, which houses four GP practices, 12 NHS departments and services including audiology, dentistry and community nursing.
Regeneration of the Lyng has completely transformed the area, creating a thriving community with a healthy mix of affordable homes, privately owned homes and community facilities.
A once depressed, run-down area plagued with associated crime and anti-social behaviour has become a welcoming and secure place to live.
The Lyng’s regeneration is an inspirational example of resident-led rejuvenation of a community.
Local people led the drive for change and the direction the estate’s redevelopment would take, setting up the resident-led LCA as a registered social landlord to see the project through.
They worked with planners, architects and builders to shape how the new homes would look, insisting on varied rooflines, materials, colour and design features to give the Lyng a fresh, vibrant and attractive look.
When the credit crunch halted building work and the whole project hung in the balance, LCA worked with Sandwell Council to kick-start construction by exploring private developers as potential partners, hammering out an agreement which would help fund the work but still deliver on their original promises.
Part of the agreement was that the new development would include LCA homes mixed in with private homes, to enhance community cohesion.
All LCA homes also benefit from innovative environmental features, such as solar panels to heat residents’ water and photo-voltaic panels which harness the sun’s energy to generate electricity which heats tenants’ homes, with any extra going back into the National Grid.
The new play area was designed by LDA Design, a company which was the lead designer for the London 2012 Olympic Park.
It comprises wooden features for children to climb, balance, spin and swing, including a tree house, swings, a roundabout, climbing frame, slide and see-saw.
Landscaping of the estate has also created a new urban gateway to West Bromwich.
Fourteen specially modelled cast iron bollards, produced by world-famous sculptor Antony Gormley, act as an eye-catching safety feature to separate traffic from the pedestrian area at the entrance to the Lyng. The attractive pathway encourages residents to walk into the town centre in safety.
LCA and its development partners worked with West Bromwich recruitment and employment agencies to create apprenticeships, training and job opportunities for local people as part of the construction project. As a result, several local apprentices worked on building the new estate.
As physical regeneration of homes has neared completion, LCA took on a Community Development Officer to engage with residents and build community spirit through a range of projects.
She has worked with Think Local, part of Sandwell Council, to set up drop-in sessions at the LCA office, offering help and advice to jobseekers on finding training and employment.
A regular Job Club has now been launched, assisting unemployed residents to apply for jobs, work on their CV, rehearse interview techniques and develop their skills to gain work and improve their future prospects.
LCA has also recently teamed up with other local organisations and businesses to offer a variety of work experience placements to young people from nearby schools and colleges.
Another popular initiative has been LCA launching the estate’s first ‘Time 2 Trade’ branch, so residents can trade hours of voluntary work with each other.
As a result, local people exchange their time and skills for the benefit of each other and the community as a whole.
Private homes comprise 250 properties – a mix of two, three and four-bedroom houses, catering for families of varying sizes.
LCA’s 200 affordable homes for rent include two-bedroom apartments plus three and four-bedroom houses, again attracting different sized households and people of all ages, from young families and single parents to middle-aged couples and pensioners.
This diversity of residents, and the fact that different types of home are mixed in together within the development, has created a flourishing, integrated and cohesive community.
By LCA and Sandwell Council working together with a private developer, Barratt Homes, this has enabled available funding to go much further.
Under the agreement, the local authority has supplied the land and Barratt has been able to subsidise LCA’s building of affordable homes for rent through its sale of private homes, so providing additional social housing for the local community.
The £50 million redevelopment of the Lyng has also generated further investment in the area, as it has been a catalyst for the wider ongoing £350 million redevelopment of West Bromwich as a whole.
This has included improvements to the road infrastructure and a new leisure centre, boasting a 25-metre swimming pool, learner pool, four-court sports hall and100-station gym.
The Lyng is also on the doorstep of a number of other commercial developments in West Bromwich, with the spending power of the estate’s residents helping to boost the local area’s economy.
Nearby New Square is an exciting retail, food and cinema complex which has proved popular with residents, as well as providing a number of local jobs.
The regenerated Lyng is ideally located with a host of health, retail, leisure and recreational facilities – plus employment and training opportunities – on its doorstep.
Within walking distance of West Bromwich town centre, it is served by a transport network which is second to none, with a railway station, bus stops, tram stations and the M5 motorway all close by.
Dartmouth Park and Sandwell Valley – a stone’s throw away – provide a peaceful, green oasis away from the bustling town, while West Bromwich’s Premier league football club offers sporting entertainment.
The estate has a school, church and health centre within its boundaries, while Sandwell General Hospital is also nearby.
Sandwell College’s new state-of-the-art campus provides education and training opportunities for 10,000 students, while the new All Saints Business Park has boosted the local economy.
The Lyng’s new community allotment – which has sustainability at its heart – has proved a hit with children and their parents, opening local residents’ eyes to the joys of working together to grow their own fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.
LCA’s redevelopment of the Lyng has helped revitalise the wider area, generating hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment that is enhancing the town for the benefit of many generations to come.
It has heralded an exciting new era for West Bromwich and developed a real pride in Lyng residents that their estate has led this transformation.
It is not just the landscape that has undergone this radical rejuvenation, but also the local economy and spirit of community.
LCA’s recent tenants’ survey demonstrated how happy people are to be living on the Lyng and the high hopes they have for its future.
This is borne out by the low turnover of LCA homes, the high demand for properties and the fact that generations of families are keen to stay in the area.
The LCA’s various community schemes – from seaside outings to summer play schemes – are over-subscribed, with people having to book early to ensure their place.
Residents regularly enthuse about the Lyng and its community activities.
Dave Law, who recently moved onto the estate with his wife and two children, says: “There’s a really good crowd here – it’s so friendly. We’d been trying to get onto the estate for a while as we’d heard such good things about it, and we were really thrilled when we got the offer of a home.”