News : Longbridge demolition sparks further redevelopment

Longbridge pictured in happier times (www.austinworks.com)

St. Modwen Properties PLC, the UK-based company which specialises in the regeneration of brownfield and urban environments, has confirmed that two derelict buildings at the former MG Rover car factory site in Longbridge – CAB 1 and CAB 2 – will begin to be demolished from Monday 13 January 2020.

Squibb Group, the specialist demolition contractor, has been appointed by St. Modwen to carry out the 40-week programme, following a successful working relationship over the past 10 years. To mark the history of the site, a number of fixture and fittings, such as lighting, have been retained from the buildings and will be incorporated in future developments throughout Longbridge.

The company is also planning to retain and repurpose several of the historic buildings as part of the Longbridge heritage, such as the Roundhouse (pictured above in happier times), the former MG Rover International Headquarters and a section of Car Assembly Building (CAB) 1. This is a major milestone in the regeneration of Longbridge which has, according to St. Modwen, seen the creation of more than 3000 new jobs in the area.

St. Modwen says that the demolition will allow for further development of the area, which so far has incorporated the building of more than 1100 homes, with another 400 under construction. In addition, more than one million square feet of commercial floor space, including the £70 million town centre. Other new developments in the area built since the closure of MG Rover in 2005 include:

  • 60,000 sq ft Longbridge Technology Park
  • £66m purpose-built Bournville College
  • Three-acre Austin Park, including the daylighting of the River Rea
  • Bespoke medical accommodation for the Ministry of Defence
  • 260-apartment Extracare retirement village

Further plans for the next phases of regeneration at Longbridge will be announced during 2020.

Longbridge CAB A, as it stands before its demolition
Longbridge CAB 1 – as it stands before its demolition begins on 13 January
Keith Adams
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17 Comments

  1. Just so grateful the Roundhouse stays ! – at least in some form. To the guys from the area and industry this building probably means much more – but even to me, who have only visited and had phot shoots with the Austin Counties Car Club and our Austin A40 Sports a few years ago – it is just so much part of the British motoring movement.

  2. Sad, but we have to move on. Just wish the land would.be used for manufacturing instead of retail or residential use.

    • I imagine it’s easier for businesses to locate at one of the new business parks rather than wait for Longbridge to be cleared. BMW for example built its engine plant at Hams Hall, JLR will have their battery plant there as well, while JLR’s engine plant is in Wolverhampton.

      • The BMW Hams Hall plant was already planned long before they dumped Rover Group – engines built there were originally intended to replace the K series in new Rover Group models as they were introduced. BMW could have planned to build it at Longbridge if they had wanted to as they owned the land at the time. The Hams Hall plant was up and running in 2001, so well before MG Rover went bust and the Longbridge site redevelopment began.

  3. A very sad day, but I’m glad to hear that the Roundhouse, and part of CAB 1 will be retained. At least something of the site’s long history will remain.

    I haven’t visited Longbridge since 2015, I just found each visit, post 2005, more depressing. I think I might have one more POL in me.

  4. so glad the kremlin is going to be saved, that and part of cab 1 should be longbridge heritage museum, thats a lot of space for a lot of longbridge built cars (including the hondas) , dont just bury the history of longbride in new houses

  5. Sad while it might be, it’s right that while certain key parts of the site are preserved, the rest is redeveloped. Enough green fields are being taken to build houses, warehouses and industrial units, brown field land needs to be reused as well.

  6. This further news, will probably gladden-the-heart of a failed political party leader in the UK, as the culmination of his sad, misguided, destructive “International” ambitions, when he started his “political” career as a shop-steward at the 1970s strike-bound Longbridge.

    • BL did indeed have international ambitions but it – nobody else – built crap cars that no international market wanted. Follow your logic on globalisation and we would all be driving around in British equivalents of Ladas and Trabants to this day – that would probably be a Marina.

  7. As a young lad interested in cars (many years ago) I always assumed that BMC / BL / MG Rover would always build cars at Longbridge in my lifetime… sadly as we know, not so.

    At least investment has gone into Longbridge with the Business Park, College, some housing etc. though I agree it’s a shame some automotive industry isn’t part of the mix. A Longbridge Motor Heritage museum sounds very appropriate if any takers can be found.

  8. My memory of Longbridge. I went there in early summer 1956 to be interviewed for the student-apprentice programme. Austin was my first choice: I’d grown up with the family 1946 Austin Twelve and I loved Austins — still do — and Longbridge was Valhalla. I was interviewed by Stan Yeal, the apprentice supervisor, who was encouraging when I said I loved writing and my ambition was to be some sort of motoring journalist. Well, he said (I’m paraphrasing), that would be way in the future, but we do have an apprentice magazine so you could practice the craft there. It all looked good, but I was told that acceptance would depend on my sending confirmation that I had passed Higher Maths, the Scottish school certificate equivalent of England’s A- Level maths, the exam still to come.

    Contrast this with the interview I had soon after in London, at Devonshire House, for entry into the Rootes Pupil programme (I was hedging my bets). Interviewer was Harry Dearns, I/C Rootes Group training. It went well until I mentioned my ambition to write. “Ha! ” said H.D. (and this is verbatim) “Do you think we want to train you so you can go off to The Autocar and write bloody rubbish about our cars?”

    Bottom line was that I knew that I was on shaky ground with the Higher Maths (I did in fact fail) whereas Rootes mailed me within a week confirming acceptance, without any provisos. So to Rootes and Coventry I went. No regrets, it was a great programme and it set me off on a satisfying career (although I never did become a motoring journalist). And in time I learned that Harry Dearn’s seemingly belligerent approach was because he loved to encourage young people to fight back.

    After being interviewed by Stan Yeal I got to go on a group tour which included visiting the shop (I don’t know what number shop it was) in which final assembly of Metropolitans was taking place.

    My only experience of fabled Longbridge.

  9. Sad to see it go but 15 years after the collapse its probably time to move on. In meantime Google maps has some very good 3-D imagery of the Longbridge factory for you to ‘fly’ around. For now at least.

  10. I don’t deny that the new ‘town centre’ is a visual improvement and jobs are welcome but, as usual, we replace manufacturing with retail. The closure of the factory was a tragedy for that part of south Birmingham and the West Midlands in general. I would have loved to see UK-manufactured fuel cell electric cars leaving the factory one day.

  11. I used to work for a paint company and visited Longbridge a few times in the 1990s , one of the Managers told me that when BMW bought the company they were shocked to find the paint process was far superior to anything they used anywhere in the world ……they expected something from the 1930s ! .
    Very Very Sad it’s all gone what with the gang of 4 asset stripping and the Chinese stealing it all ! ! , and we mustn’t forget LDV vans another fiasco , it’s a pity we have stopped supporting our core industry , and you won’t see the French Government letting their car companies disappear .

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