A long-awaited project to regenerate south-west Birmingham and create thousands of jobs is still in line for a major Government grant despite being excluded from the latest round of Regional Growth Fund announcements.
The cash will allow developer St Modwen and Birmingham City Council to press ahead with the development of more than 30 acres of land at Longbridge, creating 4,000 jobs.
St Modwen has already invested more than £85 million at Longbridge since acquiring the 468-acre site. The first phase of the £100 million Longbridge Technology Park was completed in 2007 and Bournville College’s new £66 million facility was opened in September this year, creating 500 jobs.
But long-term plans for the development of other parts of the site, including the area known as Longbridge West, will only be possible with major investment in infrastructure in the area.
St Modwen had applied for a £22 million grant from the Government’s £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund, designed to help the private sector create jobs, but there was disappointment when the scheme was excluded from the first round of successful bids, announced by ministers in April.
Ministers earlier this week named the schemes which had been successful in the second round of bidding, and the Longbridge project was once again missing – but negotiations are continuing and this time the Government is expected to announce within days that the scheme has been approved.
St Modwen says development work which depends on Government funding will create 320 new private sector construction jobs, with an additional 3,950 jobs generated through the subsequent development.
This would bring the total of new jobs created at Longbridge over the next 10 years to more than 6,000.
Infrastructure improvements subsidised by the Regional Growth Fund will include work to the A38, Lickey Road and Longbridge Lane, and measures to make brownfield land usable again such as soil cleansing.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “We made the situation crystal clear to the owners, the local enterprise partnership and the city council.
“Those discussions are in hand, and I am confident that they will be concluded successfully.”
Northfield MP Richard Burden (Lab) urged ministers to make the announcement swiftly. He said: “It’s not only about what the money can buy directly. The availability of that type of funding also unlocks other funding. It’s a sign that the Government has confidence in the development.
“We need clarity in order to maintain the pace of development.”