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The Following Article is from the Birmingham Post
The £1 billion rejuvenation of Longbridge could take another 20 years, the developer has admitted.
The development of the 468-acre site complex, which once housed the UK’s most famous car plant, is nearing its halfway aim of creating 10,000 jobs across high-technology, retail and leisure.
Mike Murray, senior development surveyor at St Modwen, said the regeneration project had already created 3,500 jobs – and that an eventual total of 10,000 was attainable. But he warned the scheme could take another two decades to complete.
“We may be here for another 20 years, looking at the scale of it. Building buildings is the easy bit, cleaning up 100 years of history and recycling 95 per cent of it is the lengthy bit.
“It will be done when it is done. We have gone from being a car factory to a regeneration scheme with a car factory.
“I think that 10,000 jobs over the years is an attainable target. The plans were put together in 2007-08 against the background of the worst recession we have ever had, and it’s a case of let’s see what we can do now.”
Mr Murray spoke of his hopes for the site as visiting Minister of State for Policy Oliver Letwin hailed the rebirth of Longbridge as ‘fantastic’ and ‘visionary.’
“It is also iconic because it is taking something which has been a large part of our industrial past and turning it into something which is about our industrial future.
Mike-Murray senior development surveyor
“We are rebuilding and part of this is the story of our automotive industry which had been through a very long period of decline and is now coming back into world competitiveness. We have seen investment from all over the world in research and development – there is a new wave coming along and we need to make sure that we do that in a way that enables us to have a real industrial future by competing and succeeding in the world.
“Since 2010 half a million jobs have been lost in the public sector and we were told that the private sector would never make up that deficit. But that private sector has created one and a half million jobs in the last five years.
“The point here is that they are not going to be the same kind of jobs that we saw in the past because things have moved on.”
The minister cited the biomedical sector as a classic example of innovative new jobs. “You are talking about a very wide range of skills and applying it to a wide range of things that people need.
“Longbridge is a reflection of the way that the economy is changing. If I wanted to prove to somebody from abroad what is happening here, I would bring them here.”
Rachel Maclean, prospective Tory MP for Northfield, said: “Most people are employed in small businesses. Something like 90 per cent of jobs are in SMEs. You have not necessarily got one large employer coming here, but one of them could be the next Google.
“This is a great example of the way that we can start to see new businesses coming here and creating opportunities.”
She said the rebirth of Longbridge could help tackle high youth unemployment in the local area: “I want the next generation to have the same opportunities which we have had and I want them to have those locally.”
Mr Murray added: “It is about creating jobs that are right for the community and giving people a choice. There is more optimism around now, more confidence. This is a massive £1 billion project and we are proud of it.”
St Modwen bought the MG Rover site in 2003 and since 2007 has completed development of more than 150,000 sq ft of office and industrial space at a cost of up to £300 million.