What’s happening?

The City of Wolverhampton Council and Staffordshire County Council has now submitted an application  for outline planning permission to South Staffordshire Council (as the planning authority) to extend the current i54 South Staffordshire employment site. There is potential to extend the site by 100 acres using the land between Wobaston Road and Pendeford Hall Lane.  The current application is for the City’s 60 acres and associated Access Road.

Why are you looking to extend the existing i54 South Staffordshire?

i54 South Staffordshire is a hugely successful employment site and home to a number of respected businesses such as Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA Home Securities and Atlas Copco. With only 15 acres remaining, the City of Wolverhampton Council and Staffordshire County Council are looking at other employment land opportunities to meet high demand.

The total possible extension is 100 acres (40 hectares), although the current application is for 60 acres, which is owned by the City of Wolverhampton Council.  The additional 40 acres that could be developed on is in the ownership of Midlands Land Portfolio Ltd, Severn Trent’s property vehicle, which could be the subject of a separate application at a later date.

The Councils are looking to use the 60 for additional employment land and an access road to encourage further investment and to realise the full potential of i54.

What are the advantages of the extension to local people?

The £1billion investment has already created 2,700 jobs at the existing i54 South Staffordshire site with more to follow, with at least 49% of jobs to date being occupied by people living in a 10 mile radius. Through this application, another 1,500 jobs could be created.

5,000 people have already benefited from the on-site learning programme. The number of learning opportunities for local people is likely to increase through the extension.

Hundreds of local residents’ lives are already being improved through supported employment programmes such as Sector Based Work Academies.

There will also be indirect economic benefits - new jobs and new businesses mean more spending in local shops and more business to business opportunities for local companies providing goods and services.

As with the current i54 site, the extension will support further investment, business development and job creation in the wider area through the supply chain. In addition, the businesses will help to increase and diversify skills for the local workforce.

Is there any demand for the extension?

Yes – considerable demand.  The site’s central location in the country and proximity to the motorway network, alongside a growing local skill base continues to be noticed by industry leaders both in the UK and internationally.   There continues to be a demand for large ‘shovel-ready’ sites that are ready for businesses to move onto.

Who will move onto the i54 extension?

It is too early to say.  If the proposed planning permission is granted, work on site will begin in early 2019.  The extension would mean that one large or several smaller employers could make the award-winning business park their home.

What is the current land use of the 100 acre proposed Western Extension?

The 60 acres owned by the City Council is in agricultural use for grazing and pasture. The 40 acres owned by Severn Trent has not been used for many years. Both the 60 and 40 acres has been designated for industrial use in the district council Local Plan. Due to its location next to an existing industrial site and the motorway, in addition to the wider economic benefits created, it is felt this will be the best future use of the land.

It has formed part of South Staffordshire Council Local Plan Site Allocation Document (SAD) which has been the subject of extensive consultation and reviewed at the Public Hearing in December 2017 at which it obtained extremely positive support from the Planning Inspector conducting the Examination in Public.

It is anticipated the 100 acres extension will be adopted as Employment Land by South Staffordshire Council during summer 2018.

What was the result of the public consultation held earlier in the year?

The plans that have been submitted to South Staffordshire Council shows how local people’s views have been taken into account. Changes include a new footpath across the extension area and access for the public to Shooting Pit Wood. Landscaping fronting Pendeford Hall Mobile Homes Park has also been increased with a bund height to now be up to 8m. This will reduce visual and noise impacts upon residents of Pendeford Mobile Homes Park.

What changes have been made to the plans?

  • The Middle Lane bridleway would be diverted around the northern boundary of the site. The diverted bridleway would be enhanced by setting it with a 10m landscaped corridor including a new footpath
  • Landscaping along the western boundary in front of the Pendeford Hall Mobile Homes Park has also been increased with an acoustic bund  height of  up to 8m. This will reduce visual and noise impacts upon residents of the Mobile Homes Park.
  • Ecological mitigations: A new 75 metre wide landscape area and new trees will be added to Wobaston Road to compensate for the loss of a part of Shooting Pit Wood. A sustainable draining system including storage ponds will also be provided along the Lawn Lane frontage which includes small ponds to accommodate the translocation of any amphibians found on the site.
  • Public access will be created to the remaining part of Shooting Pit Wood with a new footpath, linking it to a new footpath network around the boundary of the site.
Sustainable transport continues to be a priority - bus services are to be provided into the site via the i54 site. Highway access will be only via the i54 site with no construction or permanent vehicular access from either  Wobaston Road, Pendeford Hall Lane or Lawn Lane

Read the Statement of Community Involvement for more on concerns and the mitigations.

How will the development be accessed?

Development and permanent traffic would not impact on local routes - the new extension would use the existing infrastructure and motorway access that is already in place.

The new development will have a vehicular access at the northeast corner of the site, direct from the existing roundabout created as part of the i54 development. All goods vehicles, public transport and employee car trips will use this access.

A spine road with an additional roundabout will be constructed running south along a ‘green corridor’ adjacent to the Jaguar Land Rover boundary, providing direct access to the new development.

A pedestrian and cycle access will be provided from Wobaston Road to the south of the site.

Pedestrian links are proposed within the development to allow access to the repositioned bridleway and to Pendeford Hall Lane/Lawn Lane and the Pendeford Nature Reserve.

How will servicing and deliveries affect neighbouring properties and the existing road system?

Construction traffic on and off the site will be directly off the M54.

Servicing and deliveries will access the development via the proposed access road in the north east of the site, linking to the wider i54 site with the access road which has been designed to accommodate additional traffic.
As with the i54 development, all vehicles will be required to access via M54 J2 with the ‘bus only’ restriction from Wobaston Road being maintained on the southern boundary of the i54 site.

The planning application has been supported by a detailed Transport Assessment which will outline the potential impacts of the development and the expected operation of the surrounding highway network.

The new access road built by the county council would be built between the original i54 business park and the extension site.

Will public transport be available to/within the development?

It is anticipated that the existing public transport services that link the i54 site to the wider region will be extended to service the proposed development. As part of the new access road design, bus stop locations have been identified and will provide convenient access to all areas of the proposed development.

The provision of the dedicated pedestrian and cycle link to Wobaston Road will also provide opportunities to users of the development to utilise the existing services along Wobaston Road.

How many car parking spaces will be provided within the development?

The level of parking to be provided will be in line with current guidance from South Staffordshire Council.

Will there be a Green Travel Plan for the development?

Yes. A Travel Plan for the proposed development has been developed as part of the planning application, which looks to complement the existing sustainable travel measures in place on the wider i54 site.

The i54 site currently has a Travel Plan Steering Group who look to improve sustainable access to the site and occupiers on the new development will join this group.

What will happen to the existing bridleway/Middle Lane?

The Southern Section of Middle Lane bridleway will be re-routed further to the north but will still connect across from Lawn Lane to the section that runs along the edge of the i54 site. It will pass alongside a series of attenuation ponds and wildlife ponds. It will continue through areas planted with native trees and shrubs and with species-rich grass swards. Adjacent ground sloping away from the path may be fenced with timber post & rail.

A new pedestrian access point is proposed off Lawn Lane, for easier access to the Pendeford Nature Reserve. Employees of the new business park would also be able to use this new path.

How will the development be landscaped?

Structural landscaping will be provided in a ‘frame’ around the proposed development. New woodland planting consisting of a mixture of native trees and shrubs will be planted along Wobaston Road / Lawn Lane frontages. Landscaping fronting Pendeford Hall Mobile Homes Park has also been increased with a bund height to now be up to 8m. This will reduce visual and noise impacts upon residents of the Mobile Homes Park.

New woodland planting will extend alongside the new attenuation ponds and around the northern boundary. Where appropriate, wildflower and wetland grass mixes will be sown. Ponds and water features will be planted with marginal and marsh species to support amphibians and insects.

Retained woodland will be subject to management operations to ensure the continued health of mature and developing woodland and to increase bio- diversity of the ground flora.

Retained hedgerows will be augmented with new hedgerow trees. Where appropriate, the sections of Middle Lane hedge, which are earmarked for removal, will be translocated to other areas of the site.

The new access road from i54 will be routed through a landscaped corridor, which will include retained sections of Middle Lane hedge, avenues of trees, new hedgerows and grass verges.

What could the new buildings look like?

It is envisaged that any new buildings will follow the same principles of high quality design adopted by the existing units within the i54 Business Park, such as JLR, ISP, MOOG, Eurofins and others.

What sizes will the buildings be?

Depending on market demand, they would follow the same principles as those already in place at i54. They could vary in size anywhere from 7,500 m2 up to 100,000 m2 of floor space.

The maximum height would be no more than 15m.

Would buildings overshadow my property?

Any buildings erected within the development zone will be located at a suitable distance from the adjoining roadways and neighbouring properties. Part of the site will be cut into the landscape, thereby helping to shield some of the buildings from sight.

Elsewhere, as part of the design, earth-formed acoustic mounds will be employed to provide both a visual and acoustic buffer to Pendeford Hall Lane & Lawn Lane.

Will the development generate additional noise?

It is anticipated that levels of noise generated in the Western Extension will be similar to those generated on the existing i54 site because the aim is to attract similar sorts of businesses.

The project team recognises that the Western Extension will bring i54 closer to some people’s homes. A full noise impact assessment forms part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.  The noise assessment shows that noise and vibration impacts on selected residents during construction and operation are not significant.

Best practice during building of the proposed development and the use of ‘sound-reduced’ equipment will ensure noise impacts are reduced to not significant.

Construction vehicle movements will be focussed around the M54 and A449 (Stafford Road). The number of construction vehicles generated by construction of the proposed development are considered negligible compared to the existing traffic volumes on these roads, and thus the effect of construction works noise is predicted to be not significant.

During the operational phase, the proposed development will be required to have appropriate equipment and technology built-in to prevent significant noise effects from occurring. A noise bund located along the western boundary of the proposed development will reduce noise effects on the site’s closest residents at Pendeford Hall Mobile Home Park, with the noise effect predicted to not be significant.

The noise resulting from operational traffic on the surrounding highway network is also predicted to be not significant.

How will the development affect air quality for residents?

The impact would be negligible and insignificant.

Any impact on air quality would be related to changes in the number of additional vehicles using local roads. All vehicles will be required to access via M54 Junction 2, with the bus only restriction from Wobaston Road being maintained on the southern boundary of the i54 site.

An Environmental Impact Assessment has been completed which outlines the expected level of change in vehicle movements and the likely effect on local air quality during construction and operation. This report highlights that during construction works there would be a short term increase in large vehicles required for the various construction stages, which would have the potential to increase air pollutant concentrations at sensitive locations.  However, the report also highlights that the change in air pollutants due to this would be too small to affect local air quality.

What about air quality in the future?

By the time the proposed extension is fully developed (by 2028), it is expected that there will be reductions in some air pollutant concentrations compared to current conditions;  air pollutants due to additional road traffic would be too small to affect local air quality and there is likely to be improvements in technology by then.
The overall effect of the proposed development on local air quality is considered to be negligible and not significant.

How sustainable will the development be?

Sustainability covers a broad range of issues.

Sustainable development fosters sustainable communities, and looks to new industrial development to contribute towards this aim, wherever possible. The industrial development will play an important part by promoting economic vitality and employment.

It is envisaged that the detailed design and layout of large paved areas will embrace engineering concepts such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), hence the proposed inclusion of attenuation ponds on the site. Large roof expanses also offer opportunities for exploiting solar energy and rainwater harvesting for reuse.

Attention will be given to the layout and detailed design of the new industrial development to ensure that it is appropriate to its context and does not detract from the character of the area.

How are you going to protect nesting birds when development starts?

Site clearance will be undertaken in the winter, outside the nesting season. If areas still need to be cleared during the nesting season, they will be checked by a professional ecologist for nesting birds and if any are found the nests will be left undisturbed until the brood has fledged.

What is the status of Shooting Pit Wood?

Shooting Pit Wood is an area of lowland woodland containing both deciduous and evergreen trees. The ground flora includes bluebells which is a species often associated with ancient woodland. However, the original trees were cut down and replanted after the Second World War and the woodland cannot now be described as ancient.

A new 75 metre wide landscape area and new trees will be added to Wobaston Road to compensate for the loss of a part of Shooting Pit Wood

Changes to the original plans include a new public footpath into the remaining part of Shooting Pit Wood, linking it to a new footpath network around the boundary of the site.

Are great crested newts present on the site?

One great crested newt was found in 2017 during a reptile survey of the site. Further great crested newt survey work carried out during 2018 identified a low population of great crested newts and two ponds which are used by great crested newts for breeding. The Partners will be working with Natural England to implement the necessary license and management plans to protect further newts found on the site. Various wildlife ponds will be created as part of the development which will be home for any newts found.

Where will the birds nest after development?

The habitat that is being created alongside development will include scrub and hedgerow habitat which can be used by several bird species for nesting. In addition, it is hoped to install bird boxes on trees to provide additional bird nesting habitat.

What happens now?

The indicative timetable is:
  • South Staffordshire Council will consider the application, and if it is validated, will start a statutory consultation through which you can have your say
  • South Staffordshire Council’s Planning Committee will consider to the application and will make a decision on whether to grant outline planning permission in December 2018
  • Should permission be granted, work will start on site in early 2019
  • Businesses could start to accommodate the site from 2020/2021.

How can I have my say?

More details on how to have your say in the statutory consultation managed by South Staffordshire Council will be communicated shortly.

I still have a question – what do I do?

Please contact the Project Team on 01327 300355 or by emailing enquiries@ancerspa.co.uk.