Birmingham’s LDV vans site has been razed to the ground after nearly 100 years of industrial history – but could rise from the ashes as a new centre of employment.
All the buildings on the Drews Lane complex in Washwood Heath have now been demolished as part of a 15-month programme to breathe new life into the 64-acre site.
Owners Axa are now preparing to market the complex for industrial use, with hopes of generating new jobs through manufacturing or a distribution operation.
The demolition programme, due to complete by Easter next year, follows the end of van-making in 2009, when LDV finally collapsed with debts of £75 million.
The demise of the van maker saw the loss of 800 jobs at the factory and thousands more in the supply chain. The plant had been mothballed for six months with production at a standstill in the face of the recession.
Stephen Morgan of Birmingham-based agents Savills and project manager for the demolition said: “We have now demolished all the buildings, carried out all decontamination work and taken off tons and tons of asbestos. Everything is down to ground level now.
“The remit is to prepare the site for redevelopment. It is a big site and it takes a long time to prepare it. For the right developer, it is a very attractive site and there are not many of this size available.
“We will be on the site for another three months – there is an awful lot of concrete in the ground that needs to come out.”
He said the site would be marketed for would-be developers. “Axa are not minded to let it lie fallow for a long time.”
Drews Lane has a proud industrial heritage, and was the home of the luxury Wolseley car company from the 1920s.
Birmingham historian Carl Chinn said: “Wolseley was a big player in the car industry and a major employer in Birmingham. Herbert Austin launched Wolseley and it became a world-famous name.”
The assets of LDV were bought by Chinese businesswoman Qu Li but plans to relaunch the firm making eco vans have failed to progress.