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£16m industrial scheme for Longbridge site

Developers have submitted a detailed planning application for the first phase of a £16 million technology park on part of the former MG Rover site at Longbridge.

St Modwen Developments, which owns the bulk of the site, together with regional development agency Advantage West Midlands has lodged the plans with Birmingham City Council for approval.

It marks the first phase of a planned redevelopment of 57 acres of the 100-year-old car plant as a technology park that is expected ultimately to support up to 2,500 jobs.

The first phase includes two buildings totalling 77,726 sq ft which are planned on the former north works car park at Longbridge.

The larger of the two will be a 42,032 sq ft incubator on the corner of Bristol Road South and Longbridge Lane - a key focal position on the park.

About 500 jobs are expected to be created in the first phase of the development which is seen as the forerunner of a high technology industrial belt stretching along the A38 from Aston Science Park in the centre of Birmingham to its counterpart at Malvern.

Subject to planning consent, St Modwen expects construction of the incubator building to start in the late autumn with completion next summer.

The second building will comprise 35,694 sq ft of " grow- on" space for technology-based companies.

The technology park site as a whole will be built on the former north, and part of the south and west, works at Longbridge which Advantage West Midlands acquired two years ago and is redeveloping in partnership with St Modwen.

Anthony Glossop, chairman of St Modwen Properties, said: "It is good to see real progress being made on regenerating Longbridge so soon after MG Rover's closure.

"These facilities will provide opportunities to develop a wider range of new businesses which should help to underpin employment opportunities in this important area."

AWM chief executive John Edwards said: "Longbridge forms a key part of our plans for the Central Technology Belt which encourages the development of high technology industries along the A38 between Aston Science Park and Malvern.

"A lot of hard work has gone on to get the plans to the stage where a full planning application can be submitted.

"High technology is the future for this part of the Longbridge site and, subject to planning permission, we look forward to continuing to work with St Modwen Properties on this exciting scheme."

Alan Folwell, chief executive of the Central Technology Belt, the company set up to oversee the development, said: "Longbridge Technology Park is a vital site at the heart of the Central Technology Belt.

"By encouraging investments using advanced materials, like the proposed nanotechnology centre, we shall begin to establish a knowledge-led business base which will bring new and sustainable employment to south- west Birmingham."

Nanjing Automobile, the Chinese company that bought the remains of MG Rover out of administration, is expected to continue to occupy about 40 acres of Longbridge.

St Modwen estimates that once the whole of the remainder of the site is redeveloped over the next five to ten years it will ultimately be home to up to 150 companies employing as many as 10,000 people.

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