Longbridge plan to create 10,000 jobs

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The Independent Online

Birmingham City Council has unveiled a 500m plan to revitalise the former MG Rover site at Longbridge that has laid near dormant since the car maker went into administration in 2005.

The scheme envisages the creation of 10,000 jobs through the development of retail, office and residential space in and around the industrial site in Birmingham that was home to the UK's last volume car manufacturer. Nanjing Automobile, which bought the production line and other assets for 53m in 2005, reopened a small part of the site this year to make a very small number of the MG TF roadster for the European market. Just 300 people are employed for that task.

Under the 15-year plan rev-ealed by Birmingham city councillor Mike Whitby, Worcestershire County Council's George Lord and Bromsgrove Council's Roger Hollingworth, the 140-hectare former industrial site will be converted to a mixed-use business and residential area with a high-tech business centre, three parks and a park-and-ride scheme. Mr Whitby said: "Our aim is to create the most sustainable urban eco-centre in the country. Already winning praise from the Government, the new community will showcase the highest standards of design and sustainable living to be found anywhere in the UK."

The plan must be approved at a Birmingham City Council meeting on 8 January. It will then have to get the nod from Bromsgrove Council before being given final approval from the Government. If the plan does go ahead, it would be a boon to the region which was hit hard when MG Rover folded in 2005, leading to the loss of nearly 6,000 jobs.

Under the so-called "Longbridge Area Action Plan", Bournville College would relocate to the site, 1,500 homes would be built and the railway station would be revamped. Mr Lord said: "Longbridge is not only the biggest regeneration project in the Midlands, but one of the most important. The eyes of both our residents and the nation will be on us, so we are determined to succeed. There will be 10,000 new jobs, education, a revitalised station, retail and around 1,500 new homes. It's a great day for this area."

It is unclear what role Nanjing will have in the redevelopment project. Chen Hong , chief executive of SAIC, which agreed this week to take over Nanjing, said the site would be a launching pad for the company's efforts to tap into the European market.

SAIC makes MG Rover whole again

* More than two-and-a-half years after SAIC Motor Corp first bid for MG Rover, China's biggest car manufacturer has finally managed to gain full control of the UK's last volume car maker. This week, SAIC, as Shanghai Automotive is called, announced the acquisition of Nanjing Automobile, the company that won the bidding for MG Rover in 2005. The union brings an end to an odd situation. While Nanjing took control of the assembly line at Longbridge (pictured), SAIC had bought the design and intellectual property for the Rover 25 and 75 saloons months before. Both had something the other wanted. Now MG Rover is whole again, under the banner of the state-owned Chinese car manufacturer.

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