The regeneration of Longbridge is a £1 billion project covering 468 acres. It aspires to create 10,000 jobs through a diverse range of industries, together with 2,000 new homes, the new town centre, parks and public open spaces.
But what’s been done so far?
An article in the Birmingham Post last week suggested that 3000 jobs had been created at Longbridge so far. However, according to a recent press release from developer St Modwen, the £250 million invested in the development so far has created 1,160 permanent jobs through the development of the Technology Park, Cofton Centre and the £66 million new Bournville College, which opened in September 2011.
So, it’s not really clear exactly how many new jobs have been created so far, as some of the businesses in the area may have relocated and brought most staff with them, including Bournville College. Suffice to say that so far the number of jobs created at the site is a long way off the 6500 jobs lost when MG Rover closed back in April 2005. And we’re not even going to mention the estimated 40,000 jobs that were lost in the wider area from businesses which supplied or worked alongside MG Rover!
But jobs have been created.
The first 113 new homes have been completed and the £5 million youth centre, The Factory, opened in summer 2012.
There’s obviously still some way to go with the development, so we had a quick look at what’s coming next!
Town centre – facilities and employment
The £70 million Sainsburys store is due to be completed by June and aims to be open to the public some time in September 2013. Another 24 retail outlets will be completed and ready for opening in September, although no details of potential tenants have been announced other than a speculation that Marks and Spencer are considering opening a store.
Other town centre features due for completion this summer include a 75 bed Premier Inn and Beefeater Grill, cafés and restaurants, two new office buildings : Park Point and Seven House and extensive (developers’ words!) car parking.
The Austin Park, due to open this summer, will be the first new public park to be built in South Birmingham in 50 years. The urban park will be the size of around two football pitches and will incorporate trees, plants, green space, footpaths and public art reflecting the site’s automotive history.
The park will be named after Lord Herbert Austin of Longbridge, who founded the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge in 1905, and the central feature will be a 255 metre stretch of the River Rea which has been buried under the old factory for nearly 100 years.
More than 500 Himalayan Birch, Pin Oak, Goat Willow and Lime trees were hand selected at specialist nurseries in Wales and Germany to take pride of place at the new park, along with around 20,000 plants.
Centro has submitted a successful planning application for a Park and Ride car park, to serve Longbridge Station, with access off Longbridge Lane. They plan to appoint a contractor in May and hope the Park and Ride will open in the autumn 2013.
As part of the Longbridge Area Action Plan, developers had to commit to improvement of some local facilities and infrastructure. As part of this commitment, a new children’s play area will be installed in Cofton Park this spring and should be completed by the school summer holidays. In addition to this, approvals and funding is currently being sought for improved sports facilities at the park, including changing rooms and improved pitches.
Developers will also continue the improvement of Longbridge Lane from Sunbury Road to the town centre, including widened footpaths, improved pedestrian routes and crossing facilities and landscaping.
Images from the Longbridge development – click to enlarge