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Work is set to start on the Midlands’ largest Marks & Spencer store at St. Modwen’s £70 million Longbridge town centre next month, creating over 500 new jobs and further boosting the retail offering at the popular shopping destination.

Earmarked to open in time to retail for Christmas 2015, the 150,000 sq ft, two-storey outlet will anchor the second phase of the town centre and offer clothing, food and a café. It will be built by construction company Morgan Sindall and will be one of the largest Marks & Spencer stores in the country.

Mike Murray, senior development surveyor at St. Modwen, said: “This flagship store is indicative of the growing confidence retailers place in the regeneration at Longbridge. Since last year, around 26,000 shoppers have visited the town centre each week, showing the potential the area has as a retail destination. Attracting international retailers such as Marks & Spencer is a key part of our overall aim to create business and employment opportunities in the area. Up to 350 jobs will be generated by the new Marks & Spencer store, and a further 150 will be created in the construction process.

Julie Ridley, regional manager at Marks & Spencer, added: “This is a major investment for Marks & Spencer and our long term lease shows our commitment to the area and the Longbridge regeneration project. We are already excited about welcoming shoppers to the store.”

Alongside the new Marks & Spencer, planning permission has been granted for a further 45,000 sq ft of retail, restaurant and café space and new multi storey customer car park, further enhancing the existing retail offering which serves more than 200,000 people who live within a ten minute drive of the site.

The first phase of the town centre, which opened last year, features household retailers including Sainsbury’s, Costa Coffee, Greggs, Premier Inn and Beefeater alongside the £66 million Bournville College, £2 million Austin Park and award-winning landmark Park Point office building.

The fast-growing Longbridge community has so far seen a £300 million investment from St. Modwen and the creation of 3,500 jobs since regeneration began in 2003. Nearly 400 homes have been built by St. Modwen Homes and through a joint venture with Persimmon,

Consultants employed on phase two of the Longbidge town centre project include Holder Mathias Architects, Faithful+Gould and Rodgers Leask.