Advanced Manufacturing Hub Birmingham

 
   
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The Advanced Manufacturing Hub - An Impact Assessment

Birmingham City Council recently announced plans for an Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Aston to take advantage of the success of Jaguar Land Rover and the expected demand in the automotive manufacturing sector that this will create.  The first phase of which is to be made available on derelict land mainly controlled by the Council and other public bodies. 

An industrial estate, Concentric Park, has been included in Phase 1 of the proposals and has been earmarked for demolition despite being fully let and home to some 16 businesses, operating in many sectors including aerospace and automotive manufacturing, employing over 150 people.  The Council wish to obtain the industrial estate using their compulsory purchase order powers (CPO) against the wishes of all the businesses involved and the owners of the site, despite concerns being raised by those affected that any forced move would have consequences for their viability and the many staff they employ.

Given that there appears to be no demand for further large scale development in the area, the dubious employment claims, the unsuitable nature of the proposed site and the cost to the taxpayer, the aim should be to protect small businesses, not put them at risk just to add to the list of derelict land.

Consideration should be given to the suggestion that this industrial estate, which only represents 7% of the total proposed development, should be allowed to co-exist with any new development for the following reasons...

 
The industrial estate is home to 16 local businesses employing some 150 people.  The upheaval of moving a business is significant and something to be avoided.  The risks involved in moving stock and machinery are obvious but the interruption to production can be serious and the inconvenience to staff, customers and suppliers is considerable. <read more>
The justification for the redevelopment is that it will create 3000 jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector.  However when one looks at the employment density in automotive manufacturing the average is approximately 6.75 employees per acre, or 140 jobs on the (almost) 21 acre phase 1 site.  Common sense would suggest that it would be prudent to protect a site with 150 jobs and provide the opportunity to create an additional 118 jobs on a slightly reduced development of 18 acres. <read more>
Since the plan's conception in 2006 many changes have occurred in the commercial property market in the area.  There are two large scale developments within a 1 mile radius of the proposal totalling over 100 acres, one of which is already home to two global hi-tech manufacturing companies.  In addition there are many modern units available. <read more>
The proposed Advanced Manufacturing Hub sits on a Regional Investment Site as shown in the lower diagram on the right.  This site is bisected by the Aston Expressway, two railway embankments, Aston Hall Road and Electric Avenue.  Serious congestion occurs at rush hour where it can take 20 minutes to travel 300m to Salford Circus. <read more>
Originally the bulk of the land for Phase 1 was acquired by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and then passed to the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) when AWM was dissolved.  To date over 14m of taxpayers money has been spent on land acquisition and professional fees. <read more>
One of the major goals for the Council was defining the Advanced Manufacturing Hub as Regional Investment Site (RIS) to give access to funding and ease the process of compulsory purchase.  However we believe the proposals do not meet the criteria for an RIS. <read more>

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