Together with fellow ward councillor Alex Insley I attended a briefing session at the Ramada Hotel, Solihull yesterday by representatives of Applegreen. My post of 20 June (https://cllrkenhawkins.co.uk/2016/06/20/proposal-for-new-motorway-service-area/ gave notification of a proposal by Applegreen for a Motorway Service Area at junction 4. The briefing helped clarify some issues which I report on here.
The briefing opened with a presentation as to who and what Applegreen are. Issues such as low fuel prices, employing local people, and selling local produce at their service areas clearly came across. They also highlighted protection of the environment as being as key issue.
It was reiterated that a Secretary of Statement judgment (in 2009) highlighted a significant need for a new motorway service are (MSA) between junctions 3a and 7 of the M42. Here it is important to note that certain environmental conditions had to be overcome.
The proposal by Applegreen for junction 4 would be a completely screened MSA, with services similar to the French model (not as drastic as some of the ones elsewhere in the UK). It takes into account the set-back distance from the M42 in case Highways wish to widen this section of the motorway in future years. The proposal identifies 200 construction jobs and 300 new jobs if the MSA is ever completed. Their proposal seeks to use 9 hectares of green belt land whilst the existing application (by a different company) nearer junction 5, identifies use of 62 hectares.
Applegreen have publicised their proposals and will launch a public consultation next week, on 4 July. They hope to be able to submit a planning application by 12 September this year. Once I am aware of their consultation document I shall make residents aware.
The existing Application:
In brief: The existing application is still going through the determination process and is likely to go before Solihull Planning Committee in September, possibly October. This application will be determined on its own merits and any new proposal by a competitor will not be taken into consideration; there are fine legal points established.
What do I think will happen?
A few ‘IFs’ to cover.
IF the existing application for an MSA near junction 5 succeeds then that will be it. There can only be one (if any at all).
IF the existing application fails (because it is refused by Solihull Planning Committee), then I am sure this proposal by Applegreen will be taken more seriously. Even here, there may be appeals by the existing applicant to consider.
Lots to consider and I make this post to ensure as much is in the public area as possible.