Work has continued safely at pace on through the pandemic period on the i54 South Staffordshire Western extension and when work is complete all necessary infrastructure including fully-serviced factory platforms will be in place. The western extension access road from the main i54 spine road was completed last spring ahead of programme.
City of Wolverhampton Council, Staffordshire County Council and South Staffordshire Council agreed a funding and delivery strategy for the extension and will continue to look at other collaborative or joint venture opportunities in the area.
The western extension at i54, which is located on the county border with the City of Wolverhampton, can deliver up to 100,000 square metres of ready-made development platforms for companies at what is a globally-recognised advanced manufacturing employment zone. New occupiers could start to arrive in 2022.
Work is continuing on site and to connect services on the Wobaston Road. A bridleway which was closed due to the works has now reopened to the public. The services connection work is due to be completed in June and main onsite works during the summer with soft landscaping and woodland management during the remainder of the year.
The current i54 employment or business park has a workforce of circa 2,500 people, with half of the jobs held by people living within a ten-mile radius.
Both the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership have also supported the project through allocations from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, Land and Property Investment Fund and Getting Building Fund.
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “The i54 South Staffordshire Western Extension is a huge project for the county council and our partners and we’re pleased work has continued safely on schedule.
“It’s vital that we’re in a position to welcome the site’s occupiers as soon as possible to support our economic recovery post-pandemic. Onsite work is due to be completed in August when we very much hope society is getting back to normal.
“Our Staffordshire Means Back to Business strategy includes delivery of major infrastructure projects and attracting investors which will support job creation. They also generate business rates which in turn helps to fund public services.
“This is further demonstration of the strength and success of our partnership with the City of Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire councils.”
City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “i54 plays a major part in the lives of thousands of people in Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire and, at this worrying time with Covid-19, it is more important than ever that we can make rapid progress on projects such as this and welcome new investment. We see the western extension as critical to the long-term recovery of our local economy after the crisis of the pandemic. Our joint investment at i54 has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and has brought thousands of jobs to the area, with half of employees living within a ten-mile radius. The collaborative working between the three local authorities on this complex scheme has delivered real results for all, especially Wolverhampton citizens. We are now building on the success of what is already one of the UK’s premier advanced manufacturing business parks.”
The partners also agreed a further £500,000 to support and promote sustainable travel activities, and £50,000 has been granted to Pendeford Hall Nature Reserve to help continue and develop its education, health and wellbeing, and personal and social skills development outdoor activities for local communities.
More than £1 billion has so far been invested in the original i54 site, with 2,700 people employed by multi-national companies JLR, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Atlas Copco.