The proposed West Midlands strategic rail freight interchange, which developers wish to build at Four Ashes in Staffordshire, close to the M6/M54/M6 Toll junctions north of Wolverhampton, is likely to go ahead after the Secretary of State for Transport approved a Development Consent Order on 4 May 2020.
There will now be a six-week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court, a legal process known as a Judicial Review.
Development of the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) is being promoted by Four Ashes Limited – a consortium led by Kilbride Holdings working in partnership with privately owned international property developer Grosvenor Group and Piers Monckton, the majority landowner. The Kilbride Holdings team has developed rail-based projects for Jaguar Land Rover in Halewood and Castle Bromwich, and Honda as well as a number of infrastructure-led developments in the UK.
The 297-hectare site is located on Junction 12 of the M6 and is bounded by the A5 to the north and the A449 dual carriageway to the west. It is one of a small number of sites in the UK with good road access and where the rail access is the necessary W10 gauge that will enable the largest sized containers to be moved on the rail network to the rail terminal.
The West Midlands’ strong manufacturing and logistics industrial base is growing and there is a shortage of suitable quality development land for large scale rail-served logistics warehousing. Businesses are particularly reliant on good logistics support and the developers believe that a rail freight interchange in this part of the West Midlands will continue to ensure the region is competitive in national and international markets.
The developers anticipate that the new West Midlands Interchange will generate £427 million of local economic activity each year, and, through the supply chain, create £912 million of economic activity each year nationally.
Four Ashes managing director Peter Frost said: “A strategic rail freight interchange is something that has been long identified as essential for the future prosperity of the West Midlands region.
“This site has been identified because of its exceptional location with direct connections to the M6 and the West Coast main line. These factors, together with its size, make the site ideal for a strategic rail freight interchange. We are at the early stages of designing the scheme and are assessing layout options.”
However, some local residents are not so keen on the idea. South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson says on his website: “The West Midlands Interchange would greatly increase traffic in the area as well as building over an enormous amount of Greenbelt land.
“It is really important that the local community comes together to fight these plans and I will continue to support local residents and campaigners who oppose the plans.”