Work has begun on a landmark college building in Birmingham which is also playing a key part in the regeneration of the south of the city, Education Correspondent Tony Collins reports.

The long-awaited move of Bournville College to a new £66 million campus at the former MG Rover works at Longbridge has finally become a great deal more tangible.

Construction has started on the landmark college building which will be a major element in the next phase of the £1 billion redevelopment of the disused car plant.

The development, which is being carried out by leading regeneration specialist, St Modwen, and joint land owner Advantage West Midlands, will see the relocation of the existing Bournville College in Bristol Road South, Northfield, to Longbridge.

The result will be the bringing together of Bournville’s three campuses into purpose built, 250,000 sq ft premises fit for the 21st century.

And the vision of Bournville College’s future has been captured on a special short film which is to be screened for the first time today during a presentation on the Longbridge project at the International Convention Centre. The target is for the new building to be completed in time for the start of the academic year in two years’ time.

Norman Cave, Bournville College principal, said: “We are thrilled that the work on the college has started and we look forward to watching our vision develop into reality.

“The new building is due to open for students in September 2011 and the local community can look forward to state-of-the-art education and training facilities on their doorstep.”

Bournville was forced to considerably reduce the cost of its new college after a funding crisis within the Learning and Skills Council threatened to scupper the whole of the further education building programme across the country.

It finally secured detailed planning approval, and funding from the LSC, after first reducing the original £84 million cost to £73 million in order to make the shortlist, before lowering it even further to the present £66 million.

The 4.2 acre Longbridge site, which will consist of a six-storey development, is set to generate hundreds of construction and associated jobs in the area.

Once completed, the new college hopes to provide a dynamic new learning environment for more than 15,000 students in both further and higher education.

Bill Oliver, chief executive officer at St Modwen, said: “The St Modwen team is delighted that construction has started on Bournville College, a landmark building that will play a central role in the new Longbridge town centre and serves as a catalyst for development across the entire site. This high-quality educational facility is vital to ensuring the community we create at Longbridge is youthful, dynamic and sustainable for the long term. We look forward to watching it take shape over the coming months.”

Mick Laverty, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, said the start of on-site work for Bournville College was another important milestone in the regeneration of Longbridge and testament to the commitment of partners who have worked together to deliver this project at a time of great uncertainty.

“As one of the West Midlands’ 20 Impact Investment Locations, Longbridge will continue to be a priority for the agency and all regional partners. Together, we are creating a better Longbridge for the local community, with improved facilities and opportunities to live, learn and work.”

The building, designed by Broadway Malyan, is being developed by Shepherd Construction, and has been designed to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’.

Coun Neville Summerfield, cabinet member for Regeneration at Birmingham City Council, concluded: “The new Bournville College is an intrinsic part of the Longbridge Area Action Plan, the agreed vision for the development of the area. I am pleased that the collaborative work between the partners, including the city council, has brought forward this important element of the plan.”

* Fact File

*?St Modwen’s £1 billion Longbridge scheme is one of the largest regeneration projects in the West Midlands.

*?The vision for the former MG Rover works includes the creation of 10,000 jobs and 2,000 homes alongside quality public areas and access to excellent transport links.

*?The new £66 million Bournville College building comprises 250,000 sq ft and will be located on Longbridge North.

*?It will anchor the new town centre at the heart of St Modwen’s regeneration of the 468-acre former MG Rover works.

*?The college will be housed in one six-storey building comprised of multiple distinct blocks, interlinking around the central spine building where, at the heart, a double height atrium will act as an ambient space for all of the students to come together and interact with each other.