News Archive

Government Gives Longbridge Plan Green light

Plans which will lead to the creation of 10,000 new jobs and at least 1450 homes on the former MG Rover site at Longbridge have just been given the green light by a government inspector.

Prepared jointly by Birmingham City and Bromsgrove District Councils in partnership with Advantage West Midlands, St Modwen and Worcestershire County Council, the Longbridge Area Action Plan (LAAP) was submitted to Government last March ahead of a formal Examination in Public held in October and December.

The plan provides a 15 year vision for 140 hectares of land on, and surrounding, the former MG Rover car plant, which will see it dramatically transformed into a prosperous mixed-use sustainable community with a newly created and vibrant heart built around jobs, communities and people.

As well as employment opportunities and homes the plan will also deliver a new learning quarter, 25 hectare regional investment site for high tech businesses, new urban parks, shopping centres and the ‘Austin Centre’ a proposed museum and community resource which will celebrate the history and importance of area’s automotive legacy.

Approval of the Councils’ plan now gives St Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, the green light to forge ahead with the £750 million regeneration.

In her report Government Inspector, Jill Kingaby said “In my view, the proposals for the future economy of Longbridge are founded on robust and credible evidence and will be effective, flexible and deliverable.” “Overall, I conclude that the LAAP should enable the economic transformation of Longbridge…developing a range of employment opportunities across the site and establishing a Regional Investment Site which is attractive to high profile investors.”

“The sudden closure of the MG Rover plant was a devastating blow for local people and the West Midland’s economy. These events required an immediate and positive response from the councils….. in these unusual circumstances, I consider that it is entirely appropriate.”

The plan is the outcome of intensive consultation with the local community and work with stakeholders. The Inspector welcomed the collaborative work that had been carried out during preparation of the plan from the earliest stages between the local authorities, and major landowners together with transport bodies and other interests. She stated, “The parties should be commended for their approach.”

She also noted the commitment of all parties to implement the development at Longbridge “It is clear from the hearing sessions and written evidence that there has been continuing collaboration between the landowner/developers and Councils, as well as with infrastructure providers, directed at delivering the plan…. Evidence on the ground, in the form of clearance of the old MG Rover sites and construction of new business premises at the Innovation Centre and Cofton Centre, demonstrate that an “action” plan is intended and not just a paper document”.

Mike Whitby Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “The Longbridge Area Action Plan sets out an ambitious vision for the transformation of the site in a way that will provide much needed jobs, homes and community facilities for everyone who lives there.

“Alongside New Street Station, the Library of Birmingham and airport extension, this is yet another example of how through partnership working we are bringing an ever increasing number of major projects online in the region at a time when the economy needs them most.”

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “Longbridge is one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in the West Midlands region, both in economic and social terms. And is particularly significant given the site’s history as the MG Rover car production plant.

“Today’s milestone offers the opportunity to close the MG Rover chapter and instead look forward to a new era for Longbridge, an era that that will bring new jobs, new businesses and create prosperous new communities.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage. Delivering big complex projects like Longbridge is difficult but it’s what we do at Advantage West Midlands – and we will continue to work hard with Birmingham City Council, St Modwen and Bromsgrove Council to make sure Longbridge is a success.”

The leader of Bromsgrove District Council Councillor Roger Hollingworth said “I am delighted that politics has been put aside and we have all pulled together in order to bring vital jobs, homes and opportunities to the Longbridge area. The partners in the project have pulled out all the stops to get to this stage. Getting this go-ahead to make the plans a reality could not have come at a better time, and I look forward to Longbridge becoming an example of successful long-term economic and social development.”

The transformation of Longbridge is already taking shape. At Longbridge Technology Park – a key project on the Central Technology Belt – the 45,000 sq ft Innovation Centre is now more than 80 per cent occupied; and over the past 12 months, four of the occupiers have increased their office space within the £6 million landmark building.

Mike Murray, senior development manager for St. Modwen, said: “The Planning Inspector’s approval of the Longbridge AAP is an eagerly awaited milestone that effectively enables St. Modwen and our development partner Advantage West Midlands to make the transition from the planning to the delivery phase of this significant scheme.

“We have already made great progress with an extensive ground clearing and remediation programme at Longbridge to pave the way for future development, and we are now hopeful that the four major planning applications St. Modwen and Advantage West Midlands submitted in May 2008 can be quickly determined by Birmingham City Council and Bromsgrove District Council. This is a crucial step that will give us the right conditions to demonstrate our long term commitment to creating a new and revitalised Longbridge.”

In January, a planning application was submitted for the new £84 million Bournville College, which will anchor the new town centre at Longbridge. The 250,000 sq ft, six-storey Bournville College will bring together the existing three campuses and will be prominently located on the junction of the A38 Bristol Road South and Longbridge Lane.

Ends

For further information:

Simon Houltby, Birmingham City Council: 0121 303 3503

Charlotte McCarthy, St. Modwen: 0121 222 9400

Notes to Editors:

Please find attached:

(1) A copy the Longbridge Area Action Plan

(2) A copy of the Inspectors’ Report

(3) Summary of key quotes/findings from the inspector

(4) Longbridge background facts and figures