‘LONGBRIDGE will become an ideal community place to live in with homes, offices and other employment buildings and a range of shops’ – that is the message from West Midlands Mayor and Conservative candidate Andy Street.
Mr Street, vying to be re-elected in the mayoral election on May 6, spoke as he welcomed Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to the area.
During a walk around the site, the pair discussed the redevelopment of the MG Rover ‘West Works’ – the final part of the site which is set to be redeveloped after the Government awarded cash from its £24million pot to fund brownfield regeneration across the West Midlands.
The region put Longbridge as the centrepiece of its bid for this funding, although the detailed allocation of the £24million now needs to be formally agreed by the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The derelict West Works site had been empty since the car-maker’s collapse 15 years ago.
Mr Street, who grew up in Northfield, talked about the importance of the diversification from the motor industry.
“Here there is the potential to create 5,000 jobs and 350 homes and with the college, retail centre and green spaces, Longbridge will be a completely sustained area in its own right – people will be able to do everything all in one place.
“You need a good employment, quality residential and we will have that, along with the college and retail centre.”
Longbridge, he added, also had excellent transport links with the railway station, bus services and the M5.
The mayor also pointed to the increase in the number of homes and affordable properties being built in the West Midlands between 2016/17 and 2019/20.
He said 48,098 homes had been constructed between 2017 and 2020 – nearly double the 25,000 target.
The number of affordable homes in 2015/16 was 2,689, which increased to 5,643 in 2019/20.
Mr Street insists 20 per cent of any development built with support from the WMCA must be affordable housing.
Mr Jenrick said: “Having grown up in the region I think it’s very exciting to see this area of the West Midlands get a new lease of life.
“A lot of it is down to Andy’s tenacity in lobbying the Government for seed funding.
“He has campaigned hard with me and the Government to ensure shovel-ready schemes like this one get the cash they need to make them a reality.”
He spoke about the importance of the West Midlands’ manufacturing past and exporting what had been made around the World, adding we were now seeing that be replaced with green industry to complement the life sciences and high quality universities Birmingham and the West Midlands had to offer.
Rob Flavell from St Modwen said the employment land at Longbridge could be designed to tailor to the needs of individual businesses – from small and medium enterprises to larger technology firms.
“That is something you do not get in Birmingham City Centre and with the transport links, it is the perfect place for businesses to come and relocate here.”
He added there was also more than 27acres of green space where people could get out and about during their free time and a new cycle and pedestrian path was being created to provide people with a green route from Longbridge to Rubery.