Long-awaited work to bring a host of retailers into an upmarket Birmingham suburb will begin this summer after a sale was agreed.

The £6.4 million sale of a major redevelopment area in Mere Green will allow work to start in July, with the likes of Marks & Spencer and Boots already signed up as tenants.

Plans to overhaul the town centre, in Sutton Coldfield , much of which has lain empty since 2007, have been delayed by the recession and the collapse of developer Castlemore in 2009.

However, everything is in place to start work on a retail and leisure scheme after Salmon Harvester Properties acquired from administrators at PwC.

Its new owners claimed there had been stiff competition for the site and the Post previously reported there had been 55 developers and funds have expressed an interest.

Rorie Henderson, development director at London-based Salmon Harvester said: “This is a superb oven-ready development opportunity in an affluent location and as such we had to fight off some stiff competition. We are delighted with the pre-letting success to date and there are numerous discussions taking place with other potential occupiers.”

Construction work on the £17.5 million scheme is due to start in July with completion scheduled for August 2016.

Work can begin immediately after Cordatus Real Estate, acting as asset managers on behalf of PwC, secured planning consent for a 68,624 sq ft retail led development on the 2.73-acre site in Mere Green.

More than a third of the scheme, fronting onto Mere Green Road and Lichfield Road, has already been pre-let.

Marks & Spencer has signed for a 16,178 sq ft food store on a 20-year lease, Boots has agreed a 10-year deal for 3,544 sq ft while Greene King, operating as Old Speckled Hen, has committed to a new 10-year lease in its existing 4,500 sq ft unit.

Three other stores in the 11-unit scheme, which was subject to a masterplan by well-known city architect Bob Ghosh, of K4, are presently under offer.

Work is expected to see a mix of buildings and car parks replaced and a new public square created.

Andrew Mitchell, Conservative candidate for Sutton Coldfield in the forthcoming General Election, said: “This long awaited and excellent news is a major and definitive boost to Mere Green’s future. I commend the outstanding work undertaken by Councillor Maureen Cornish in ensuring the Council work well with the private sector in bringing this about.”

The work was actually given the green light five years ago but has been delayed after Castlemore was put into administration by HSBC in February 2009.

Castlemore had bought the site through its urban regeneration arm SpringUR for around £11 million in 2006 from Sutton Coldfield Municipal Charities.

Matthew Hammond, partner at PwC and joint administrator, added: “We are delighted that we have secured the sale of this site to Salmon Harvester. The price achieved fully justifies our strategy of holding this asset through the planning stage and securing the pre-lets to major retailers. Salmon are a very credible developer and very well placed to deliver this scheme to the community.”