8 million sq feet – or the size of 140 football fields? Whichever way you look at it, the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) site in South Staffordshire will be a huge commercial development in our county. Situated between junction 12 of the M6 and the West Coast Mainline at Gailey in South Staffordshire, WMI will have a significant impact on Staffordshire’s economy as the site takes shape in the next decade.
WMI is a joint venture between Logistics Capital Partners (LCP) and Oxford Property Group and is regarded as ‘The UK’s most significant new rail served logistics development,’ offering up to 8 million sq. feet of prime logistics facilities. In our recent Planning & Infrastructure (P&I) forum meeting, we received an update from LCP on the development of WMI.
On-site activity started in earnest during the summer of 2023, with the flattening of plateaued land, guided by a construction principle of ensuring that no soil leaves the existing site and no soil is brought onto the site.
Community engagement is a key priority for the development, with approximately 109 acres of land being set aside as a community park. Local residents are being asked about what amenities they would like to see in a community park. The park will also be used by the 8,500 workers who will be employed at WMI, once the site is complete.
The WMI site will seek innovative construction of buildings to ensure that there is relatively low energy consumption. Buildings across the site will offer up to 150 acres of roof space, onto which photovoltaic cells will be attached. This will generate energy for the entire site.
A rail head facility will open in 2026, allowing freight to move in and out by rail, connecting with the West Coast Mainline between Stafford and Wolverhampton. Once this is opened, further development of the site should accelerate, with demand for space expected to be high.
During last week’s P&I forum, we also received an update from locally based social enterprise, Mondrem, which wants ‘to help make public services brilliant, everywhere and all of the time’. Mike Astbury of Mondrem explained that his team is working with planning teams at local authorities, helping them to deliver a faster and better customer experience, improve productivity and deliver their work within budget.
Delays in turning around planning application decisions can often be attributed to a lack of capacity or challenges with staff recruitment and retention. Mondrem encourages local authority clients to recognise the importance of making human connections, as being human is what we all have in common. Another key element is the need to build shared understanding, trust and confidence. A faster, better service is seen as a by-product.
Our P&I forum is tasked with exchanging information on planning policy, construction and regeneration. It also steers Chambers’ representations on these matters and receives updates on developments in planning law. We meet again on Tuesday 23rd January 2024 and if you would like to learn more about the valuable work of this and our other policy forums, please drop me a line: