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ARCHITECT APPOINTED TO £100MILLION LONGBRIDGE TOWN CENTRE

St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, has taken a massive step forward in creating the £100 million town centre at Longbridge with the appointment of Holder Mathias Architects.

Representing the first phase of the 15-year, £1 billion regeneration of the former MG Rover car production plant, the new Longbridge town centre will establish an employment-led heart for the community. Having been appointed through the Office Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procurement process, Holder Mathias Architects has now been tasked with defining its vision for the 15 acre, mixed-use scheme; focusing on the initial phase which is likely to comprise a food store, retail units, hotel, car park, and the four acre Austin Park.

Working closely with Barton Willmore, the masterplanning and landscape architects for Longbridge, Holder Mathias Architects will ensure the detailed designs for Longbridge town centre fit within the parameters of the planning application for Longbridge North – one of four major planning applications for Longbridge submitted last year to Birmingham City Council and Bromsgrove Council by St. Modwen and joint landowner, Advantage West Midlands.

Stephen Hill, director for Holder Mathias Architects, said: “Longbridge is an incredibly exciting project for the practice, not least because of the social and economic significance of this major regeneration scheme, but also because the car production plant defined the area for almost a century and as such there is currently no fundamental urban design context on which to build. This is a unique situation for an architect to be in when working on a town centre regeneration scheme. We will be taking a holistic approach to the overall design of Longbridge town centre, helping to establish a specific identity and sense of place for this key area of Birmingham’s hinterland”.

Ground clearing work has recently been completed at Longbridge North to prepare the site for Bournville College, which will relocate to a new £66 million 250,000 sq ft purpose built premises at Longbridge town centre. Designed by the Birmingham office of international design practice Broadway Malyan, the six-storey college will create a dynamic new learning environment for over 15,000 students in both further and higher education. Construction of the college will get under way later this year, with completion scheduled for September 2011.

Mike Murray, senior development surveyor for St. Modwen, said: “The appointment of Holder Mathias Architects is a significant milestone in the creation of the new town centre at Longbridge, and it clearly demonstrates St. Modwen’s commitment to this crucial first phase and to the wider 15-year regeneration programme for Longbridge. Holder Mathias Architects understood the scale of the ambition behind our plans for the area, and we are looking forward to helping the team play an important role in bringing the vision for the town centre to life.

“With five million square feet of vacant buildings now demolished across Longbridge, and with the Longbridge Area Action Plan approved, the project is moving from the planning phase to the delivery phase and 2010 looks set to be a key year, subject to obtaining planning consent. We are hopeful that getting consent for the four major planning applications submitted last year will be the next major milestone for Longbridge, moving us even closer to delivering on our aims for this landmark scheme.”

Longbridge is a £1 billion regeneration project spanning 468 acres. Over the next 15 years, the scheme is expected to create up to 10,000 new jobs and 2,000 new homes. An exemplar of sustainability, there will also be improved transport links alongside new community facilities and public space.

Mark Foley, partnership director at Advantage West Midlands, said: “Following the recent announcement of the Bourneville College campus, the appointment of architects is further evidence of the progress of this exciting scheme. Longbridge is now forging ahead and promises to deliver the homes, jobs and a brand new sustainable town centre that we can all be proud of.”