The City of Birmingham is at the centre of the West Midlands region which incorporates the five counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire. All have a strong rural identity compared to the metropolitan area.

The European policy framework for the region is set out in the regional European Strategy with the following priorities:
• Engaging with the Single Market
• Engaging with Europe’s Research & Innovation Agenda
• Tackling Climate Change and ensuring Environmental Protection
• The Social Cohesion Dimension

Challenges and issues
80% of the West Midlands region is “rural” with 35% of the population living in rural areas. Most people living within the rural parts of the region have strong links with the main urban conurbation or one of the market towns which form an outer ring beyond the Birmingham conurbation. Whilst wages in the rural areas are lower than average there is a good level of entrepreneurship and small business culture. 1 in 5 people in rural areas lives in financial poverty. The average age of the population is rising which has impact on provision of services and there is need to find more job opportunities to retain young persons in the more rural parts of the region.
The challenges we seek to address are:
• Regeneration of the rural economy
• Sustainable land management recognising changing agricultural practices
• Access to services for all citizens
• The development of sustainable communities recognising demographic trends

Why be a member of PURPLE?
The West Midlands is looking to achieve better performance through engaging in exchanges of experience, knowledge and best practice with European regions with similar peri-urban characteristics.

Projects linked to PURPLE
The West Midlands is looking to develop projects under Horizon 2020F, INTERREG, LIFE, and the Erasmus Plus Programmes.
Topics and issues for such projects where partners within PURPLE are sought can be around themes such as:

  • Rurality and issues relating to sparsity e.g. connectivity, service provision
  • Education, training and skills
  • Innovative agriculture and clusters around food & drink
  • Promoting ecosystem services
  • Rail and aerospace industries
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Dealing with ageing populations and living well

Photo: Telford town centre aerial view

General data:

Country: England
Total area: 1.300.400
Population: 5.300.000
Density: 408 hab/km2
Agriculture land use: 70%, plus 8% forestry
Arable land: 41 %
Main economic activities: Manufacturing, tourism, public sector, construction, agri-food and transport technology.  West Midlands has developed clusters around these sectors.
Main agricultural products: Horticulture, livestock and livestock products

Last updated: 16 April, 2020

West Midlands

Land use map - peri-urban West Midlands

Cllr Mark Winnington, Vice President of PURPLE

Cllr Philip Atkins

County Buildings,
Martin Street
Stafford, ST16 2LH

Member of the PURPLE Working Group:
Nicola Swinnerton, Rural Development and Access Manager,

Staffordshire County Council,
No. 1 Staffordshire Place, c/o Wedgwood Building,
Block A, Tipping Street, Stafford, ST16 2DH


Westons cider factory

Hereford cathedral and the river Wye

Clun village in Shropshire