Govt inspector backs £750m plan for MG Rover site

Plans for a £750m redevelopment of the site of the former MG Rover factory have been given the green light by a Government planning inspector.

At least 1,450 homes, a college and shopping centres will now be built on and around the 140-hectare site, in Longbridge on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Most of the site occupied by the factory has been vacant since MG Rover went into administration in 2005. Chinese firm Nanjing Automotive, which bought MG Rover, resumed production of MGs on part of the site last year.

The 15-year Longbridge Are Action Plan (LAAP) was submitted to Government last March, and public hearings about it were held in October and December.

Government planning inspector Jill Kingaby has praised the plans, which were developed by Birmingham City Council, Bromsgrove District Council, Worcestershire County Council, Advantage West Midlands, and developer St Modwen.

In her report, she said: “The sudden closure of the MG Rover plant was a devastating blow for local people and the West Midland’s economy.

“These events required an immediate and positive response from the councils…in these unusual circumstances, I consider that it is entirely appropriate.”

As well as homes, the plans include a 25-hectare site for high tech businesses, new urban parks, and the Austin Centre – a proposed museum to celebrate the site’s history.

Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The Longbridge Area Action Plan sets out an ambitious vision for the transformation of the site in a way that will provide much needed jobs, homes and community facilities for everyone who lives there.”

Mike Murray, senior development manager for St Modwen, said: “We have already made great progress with an extensive ground clearing and remediation programme at Longbridge to pave the way for future development.

“We are now hopeful that the four major planning applications St Modwen and Advantage West Midlands submitted in May 2008 can be quickly determined by Birmingham city council and Bromsgrove District council.”

Last month, a planning application was also submitted for the new £84m Bournville College, which will be a major feature of the new town centre at Longbridge.

Kate Martin

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