POINTS OF VIEW

There is a lot to read in the many documents that set out plans for new development and the answers to your questions are not always easy to find. Here we have tried to answer the most common questions.
FAQ_CGI

We commissioned leading property advisor Savills to draft an independent report for us based on an estimated 75 hectares of employment land and 2,500 homes.  Their conclusions were that the project would deliver: 

Up to 9,100 additional jobs generated on site and in the surrounding area, but not including construction, which would add another 4,000 jobs 

Local economic activity of up to £444 million gross value added (GVA) every year 

347,375m2 of employment floor space and 2,500 homes would generate additional tax revenues to Shropshire Council: 

Council Tax of £3 million 

Business rates of £4.5 million a year once complete, over £3 million of which would be retained by Shropshire Council 

We have adjusted the balance of homes and jobs to reflect the current demand for employment space in the M54 corridor and the priority of rebuilding the economy following the pandemic.

Within the same site boundaries – i.e. without using any additional land – we have increased the amount of employment land from 50 hectares to 75 hectares and reduced the number of new homes from 3,000 to 2,500.

A rigorous Employment Needs Assessment by Savills shows significant demand for employment space – evidenced by more than 120,775 square metres of live employer requirements. Shropshire lacks alternative sites for these requirements.

Our preliminary conversations with the business community and local educational establishments support Savills’ analysis and show definite demand for space. 

The area has a good reputation for environmental technology, agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing and defence-related engineering. This both attracts employers from those sectors looking for specialist skills, supply chains and markets and drives demand for space.

We can complement existing businesses in those sectors, contributing to a critical mass in these industries and offering larger and more flexible development plots than are available elsewhere.

Our location next to the M54 inevitably makes the site attractive for logistics and distribution firms and we would look to accommodate them alongside the higher value jobs that will provide a step change for the local economy.

The mix of employment types – the proportion of space given over to distribution or offices, for example – would be set in any future planning application.

From our initial conversations with the business community and local educational establishments there is definitely demand for space.

The area has a good reputation for environmental technology, agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing and defence-related engineering. This both attracts employers from those sectors looking for specialist skills, supply chains and markets and drives demand for space.

We can complement existing businesses in those sectors, contributing to a critical mass in these industries and offering larger and more flexible development plots than are available elsewhere.

Our location next to the M54 inevitably makes the site attractive for logistics and distribution firms and we would look to accommodate them alongside the higher value jobs that will provide a step change for the local economy.

The mix of employment types – the proportion of space given over to distribution or offices, for example – would be set in any future planning application.

The scale of this development means it can deliver much needed new social infrastructure that the whole local area can use and, because of the way the planning system works, will also result in significant funding towards the upgrade of existing facilities, such as Cosford rail station. 

Alongside the 2,500 homes proposed, we will deliver: 

A medical centre; 

One primary and secondary school combined; 

A farm shop and local shops; 

Community buildings; 

Employment space that will bring up to 9,100 new jobs to the community;

The whole development will provide a significant £444 million annual boost to the local economy over the next 25-30 years. This much needed financial injection can then be used to invest in further improving local services and be of benefit to the whole county. 

Any planning consent would require us to provide new community infrastructure and would set out in detail what we are to provide and when. There is no risk for existing residents that new residents and workers would come to the area without the facilities they need.

Helping Shropshire tackle its climate emergency and reduce the county’s carbon footprint is one of the central objectives of the proposed J3 development north of the M54. We plan £40 million worth of investment in making the new community net zero carbon once completed. 

The project is estimated to generate about £100 million of new revenue for Shropshire Council over the course of development, which could be redirected towards vital local services, invested into other infrastructure upgrades and assist the Council’s Climate Change Task Force to meet its target of being net zero carbon by 2030 and beyond. 

Bradford Estates commissioned WSP, a global consultancy and world leading expert in responsible and sustainable development, to analyse the project and make recommendations that will allow us to achieve our goal of achieving net zero carbon status, reinforcing our commitment to creating a scheme that will not only set a standard for Shropshire, but also the UK as a whole. 

The WSP report has helped us identify a number of clear steps which will allow us to achieve our net zero carbon ambitions, including the community being powered entirely by renewable electricity. WSP’s analysis found that a £23 million investment by Bradford Estates would see 45% of the electricity needed to power the proposed homes and commercial properties generated using ‘roof tile-looking’ solar photovoltaic panels.  The balance would then be sourced through solar photovoltaic panels in discrete locations elsewhere on 12,000-acres of estates which, with around 30 solar energy sites already installed around Shropshire, would be very much in-line with other renewable initiatives across the county. 

Please follow this link to the executive summary of the WSP report. 

Unlike speculative commercial developers and housebuilders, Bradford Estates has a long history in this part of Shropshire and has a long-term interest in helping the local area’s communities and environment thrive. The Bradford family’s history and continued presence in the area means that we are committed to creating an exemplary development which is specifically designed with the needs and aspirations of Shropshire in mind.

Bradford Estates is committed to managing any development to ensure the estates’ high standards of sustainability, design and management are maintained in perpetuity.

It is impossible to address the UK’s housing crisis without building some new communities on previously undeveloped land. 

Green belt should not be confused with areas protected for their natural beauty or historic importance which need to be preserved. Green belt land surrounds existing settlements. It tends to be closer to transport and facilities and therefore provides more opportunities for sustainable development than open countryside.

Legislation accepts that it is necessary to build in the green belt when there are “exceptional circumstances”. We believe that the lack of suitable alternative locations, the latent demand and the considerable economic and social benefits our proposals offer justifies these exceptional circumstances here and is in line with similar precedents that have been set around the UK.

The Council’s Shropshire Green Belt Review looked at large parcels of countryside. This concluded that the area north-west of the J3 motorway junction, envisaged for the Strategic Employment Area would, if developed, result in “moderate to high” harm.  Likewise, there would be “high” harm to the green belt if development occurred across a substantial area, which covers the whole of the area north of the Strategic Employment Area and Lizard Lane and west of the A41 up the valley sides to Lizard Wood.   

However, using the same methodology, we have looked at these areas in greater detail – excluding from development those parts that would result in the highest harm – and considered how these areas might be designed and developed appropriately to mitigate their impact further.

Adopting this approach, our justified conclusion is that the Strategic Employment Area would cause only “moderate” harm and the residential areas “low to moderate harm”.  

J3 will respect its setting, with design drawing from the local character and pattern of development, and landscape buffers to Weston Park and the historic Tong village. Particular attention will be paid in design to prioritise accessibility to social space and sports facilities, ensuring good daylighting in buildings, and promoting the visibility of, and access to, improved natural surroundings.

J3 will take the best of the local residential vernacular, building it into a place suitable for 21st century living and beyond. The link between good quality housing and improved health, wellbeing and economic prosperity of communities is well-evidenced and long-established. It is a founding principle of the garden village movement.

The diverse local housing needs of Shropshire should be met through a balanced supply of high-quality homes, built in the vernacular style, and designed to foster community by appealing to people at all stages in their lives.

On the contrary, our proposals open up significantly more countryside for people to enjoy.  The proposed site is currently private land that, except for a few public rights of way, is currently largely closed to the public and used for farming. 

Our aim is to open up over 300 hectares of open space for the public including the beautiful Lizard Wood, while creating a new network of footpaths and bridle ways that provide the local community with more access to the countryside and more ways to enjoy it. 

Not at all.  Like everyone from the local area, we are enormously proud that the historic 625-mile Monarch’s Way footpath runs through this part of the country and are acutely aware of both its recreational and heritage value to locals and visitors alike.  Its preservation has therefore been a key consideration in the development of our plans. 

Within our masterplan, the land immediately to the west of the A41 and either side of Monarch’s Way has been set aside as public parkland.

Where Monarch’s Way meets the busy A41, we propose improving the safety of the crossing for pedestrians.

For around 700 metres where the Monarch’s Way does cross the site, we will create a 70-metre wide green corridor which will also tie into existing connections, extending and enhancing the local footpath network for the whole community. 

This green corridor will incorporate sustainable drainage systems and features to create naturalistic ponds within linear wooded features, recalling those found along the route immediately east of Tong Hill Farm and preserving the tranquillity of the route.

Most of the site is classified as Flood Zone 1. These are areas at a low level of risk from fluvial and tidal sources

There are two corridors of Flood Zones 2 and 3 across the site, associated with the River Worfe and its tributary. These are areas associated with a medium and high level of risk from fluvial flooding. No built development is proposed here.

Towards the centre of the site, there are areas classified as falling within the extent of a groundwater Source Protection Zone (SPZ). Water quality of surface water runoff is a key consideration in a groundwater SPZ. Therefore, following consultation with the Environment Agency, no built development is proposed within SPZ1.

Thorough community consultation always takes place on detailed plans before a planning application is submitted. Once it is submitted, the local authority will then undertake a detailed and formal consultation. That stage is still months or years in the future.

At the moment, we are at the local plan stage, when the local authority decides on the best locations for new development, considers the principle of allocating plots of land for appropriate uses, and gives an outline of the character of that development.

We have put forward our high-level vision for J3. If the council allocates J3 in its Local Plan in the future, then local communities will play an important part in shaping the details.

Bradford Estates has been open about its plans since start of 2019 so there is a high level of awareness due to its efforts to distribute information.  We have surveyed individual residents, met community representatives and brought groups together to discuss the plans. We welcome the debate over the future of the area and are listening to residents’ views and are responding as we add detail to our masterplan.

J3 will provide upskilling for local people through a new university campus. Close links to employers on site will ensure that training is relevant and creates a skills pool to attract employers.

A broad range of university activities will include research space to develop marketable new ideas and an incubator to support university spin-offs and other start-up businesses.

Cosford railway station’s proximity in just over a mile offers sustainable and affordable transport for students and other users of the proposed campus, whether they live in Shropshire or the wider area.

J3 is currently the only strategic site in the M54 Corridor where the University of Wolverhampton is considering a new satellite campus. By working with Bradford Estates on a shared vision, they are supporting innovation and educational ambitions of the new development as well as wider strategic economic objectives to grow and diversify the local economy.

The University sets out its own vision for a campus at J3:

“The University of Wolverhampton supports the principles that underpin the proposed J3 development in Shropshire and recognises the significant potential economic benefit that it can deliver to the area and the wider sub-region.

“The University strongly supports that primacy the proposal gives to skills and training and the inherent opportunity for progression and development.

“With an innovative course offering aimed at upskilling and reskilling, the university advocates a collaborative approach and a partnership model that could include: 

  1. Higher National Diploma/Higher National Certificate and undergraduate provision pitched at addressing the skills needs of the area and informed by engagement with the business base, working alongside other skills providers.
  2. Specialist Undergraduate and Postgraduate provision tailored to the needs of start-up and micro businesses.
  3. An on-site research facility with a specific Postgraduate Research offer.
  4. Graduate residences i.e. a graduate village linked to the start-up market Any future offer would complement existing Further Education provision and work in close collaboration with colleges, schools and business to ensure that there are developmental and progression opportunities for all.”