Remediation work has begun to clear the way for a multi-million pound college that will underpin the ambitious programme to transform the former MG Rover plant in Longbridge.
Developer St. Modwen has started an extensive programme of preparatory works on the site of the former North Works for construction of the new £84 million Broadway Malyan-designed Bournville College.
The £750m scheme, being driven by St. Modwen and joint landowner Advantage West Midlands, will eventually see the creation of a essentially new suburb of Birmingham with new homes, a town centre, the college and more than a million square foot of commercial space for new technology-focused industries.
The vision for Longbridge town centre includes a major food store, together with a variety of other retail and service uses, employment space, hotels and leisure uses as well as 460 new homes and The Austin Centre – a community building which will primarily be used as a focal hub for a host of local groups.
Over the course of the development thousands of tonnes of soil will be remediated at Longbridge North – enough to fill more than 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and, following the removal of ground contamination and concrete obstructions, the site will be re-graded to enable infrastructure and building works to commence.
Construction is scheduled to start on Bournville College in summer 2009.
The preparatory works will also include the construction of the realigned River Rea, which has been underground since the early 1900s.
The river will be returned to an open watercourse and will become a key feature of Longbridge North.
It will run through Austin Park at the heart of the town centre, which will also include cycle lanes, footpaths, riverside seating and grass terraces.
Mark Batchelor, construction manager for St. Modwen, said: “Sustainability is very much at the heart of the regeneration of Longbridge and more than 95 per cent of on-site material is being recycled for future use in the project.
Contaminated material will be treated by Hawk and Celtic Ltd using ex-situ bioremediation, which allows for the treated material to be re-used elsewhere in the scheme.
This reduces the need for importing and off site disposal of material, thus decreasing traffic on the roads and reducing the carbon emissions of the project.“ As well as the environment, the interests of the existing community surrounding the 468 acre Longbridge site are of utmost importance, with St. Modwen introducing measures that will keep disturbance to an absolute minimum.
Hawk’s innovative new silent breakers will drastically reduce noise disturbance and excessive dust, a common problem during preparatory work, will be reduced using Celtic Ltd’s filtration kit.
“Around five million square feet of the vast Longbridge site has already been cleared by St. Modwen. We are working closely with the Environment Agency, Birmingham City Council and Bromsgrove District Council to ensure this former industrial site is fully remediated, allowing the area to be completely transformed into a prosperous mixed-use town centre built around jobs, communities and people.”
The proposals for the area as a response to the city council’s Area Action Plan are currently subject to a public inquiry.
The hearing heard that the residential element of the regeneration scheme may be delayed due to the slump.