WMCA backs on-going regeneration of Birmingham’s former Longbridge car plant with £780k funding deal

Another key scheme in the on-going regeneration of the former MG Rover car plant in  Longbridge is being backed by a £780,000 funding deal from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

More than 400 new jobs are expected to be created by 2 Park Square which will see 60,000sq ft of high-quality commercial office space built on a 1.6 acre derelict plot on the site of the once famous car works.

Working alongside partner St. Modwen, the scheme is the latest planned development in the regeneration of Longbridge which has already seen more than 3,700 jobs created. On completion, the wider transformation of the area is expected to create around 9,000 permanent jobs and deliver an estimated economic boost of £500m a year.

WMCA backs on-going regeneration of Birmingham’s former Longbridge car plant with £780k funding deal

2 Park Square will be the latest regeneration project on the site of the former MG Rover works in Longbridge, Birmingham

The announcement follows the award last month of more than £51m of Government funding for the WMCA to drive forward significant regeneration schemes on brownfield, former industrial land such as the old MG Rover site at Longbridge.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “This derelict site was once a thriving hub of industry, and now it can once again provide jobs and services for the region. Our funding will assist in closing the viability gap needed to get the redevelopment of this part of the Longbridge site underway.

“We may still be in the eye of the Covid storm but we have refused to let it knock us off course. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to invest in the regeneration of brownfield land across the region and put in place the building blocks we will need for a successful economic recovery that can provide decent jobs and good quality affordable homes for local people.”

The 2 Park Square scheme is seen as vital in building on the success of the Longbridge Innovation Centre and other nearby workplaces. Existing businesses in the area have grown and now require additional space to continue their expansion but the scheme also provides space for smaller businesses to occupy and expand.

The development’s larger spaces are also aimed at attracting bigger firms to the area and help drive further momentum in Longbridge as a business destination.

Rob Flavell, senior director at St. Modwen, said “Our partnership with the WMCA continues to grow and help unlock the exciting pipeline of jobs, homes and beautiful public realm spaces that will create an amazing place.  

“The WMCA’s support is key to delivering the huge benefit that Longbridge can contribute to the West Midlands.” 

At its height in the 1960s, Longbridge was one of the world’s biggest car factories, employing tens of thousands of people producing ground-breaking vehicles like the Mini. 

But a steady decline led to the collapse 15 years ago of the site’s final occupier, MG Rover, with the loss of the plant’s remaining 6,000 jobs. 

St. Modwen acquired the site in 2003 and the 2 Park Square project will see significant further private sector investment through the company. 

St. Modwen will invest £13.5m in the scheme as part of a wider £1 billion investment to transform Longbridge into a modern, attractive environment where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time. 

Located next to St. Modwen’s head office, Bournville College, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, the scheme features a Grade A, four-storey commercial office building designed to provide modern, flexible workspace with an emphasis on employee wellbeing.

The building will be operationally carbon neutral with its own roof garden and outdoor terrace spaces and will overlook the attractive Austin Park and River Rea.

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, said: “This commitment from the devolved housing and land funds the WMCA has secured from Government is the latest signal to the market that the region is continuing to use its brownfield site investment to support economic recovery and to encourage the construction and investment needed in what has been one of the UK’s most rapidly growing regions.”

The Longbridge deal follows a series of landmark funding commitments over the last nine months for the regeneration of derelict industrial land, often referred to as brownfield, and is part of the WMCA’s nationally leading brownfield regeneration programme.

This includes an integrated approach for urban regeneration and ensures good design is embedded on all its projects through the WMCA design charter launched last year.

Access to funding was provided by Frontier Development Capital Ltd (FDC), a fund manager working closely with property developers to arrange investments from the WMCA’s Collective Investment Fund (CIF), Revolving Investment fund (RIF) and Brownfield Land and Property Development Fund (BLPDF). Kieren Turner-Owen, Associate Director – Property, at FDC facilitated the deal.

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