West Midlands Interchange

The list below includes a record of advice we have provided for this project. For a list of all advice issued by the Planning Inspectorate, including non-project related advice, please go to the Register of advice page.

There is a statutory duty, under section 51 of the Planning Act 2008, to record the advice that is given in relation to an application or a potential application, including the name of the person who requested the advice, and to make this publicly available.

Preview
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
The Applicant provided a draft Consultation Report for comment.
Please see attached

23 March 2018
West Midlands Interchange - anon.
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
I’m writing to share my concerns regarding the proposed West Mids. Rail Freight Interchange at Four Ashes, in South Staffordshire. Please could these be forwarded directly to one of the case officers dealing with the application?

I believe it would be in everybody's best interests including the developers for these issues to be addressed sooner rather than later given the extent of the impact they are likely to have on the viability of the scheme.

I've expressed my concerns through the regular channels in the statutory and non-statutary consultations. However, given the fact the Stage 2a consultation is still completely failing to recognise these issues, I would suggest the developers have no intention to reconfigure their plans or offer any mitigating solutions this side of your decision.

If you could look at our concerns my family and I would be extremely grateful.
Thank you for your email.

We note that you have contacted the applicant in relation to the proposed West Midlands Interchange.

At this stage the application for this proposed development has not been finalised, and as such we advise for any concerns related to the project to be submitted directly to the developer, in order for your views to inform the application before formal submission to the Planning Inspectorate.

If your concerns are related to the applicant's consultation activities and you have not already done so, we would also advise you to contact the relevant local authority to inform them of your concerns, as your views may inform their Adequacy of Consultation response, once the application has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (the Acceptance stage of the Planning Act 2008 planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs)).

If the application for the West Midlands Interchange is submitted and subsequently accepted for examination, you will also have the opportunity to register to participate in that examination and make submissions on whether or not the form of the proposal that is described in the application is acceptable, and whether development consent should be granted.

The Planning Inspectorate has recently published to our website a Frequently Asked Questions document (attached to this email) which provides information on the Pre-application stage of the Planning Act 2008 planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP), which you may find helpful.

Please contact us if you have any further queries

14 December 2017
Daniel Williams
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
As a local resident of South Staffordshire, we are at present campaigning against the proposed West Midland Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (WM SFRI)
We have had public consultations with the developers where we have expressed our opinions and opposition to this proposal, on many issues.
One of the issues being the development on 700 acres of Green Belt land, and the impact this will have on the Wildlife and destruction of Mature Trees.
I urge you to look into your governments policies regarding Green Belt and the Natural Environment and Rural communities, with regard to this matter.
At present this proposed development is in the Pre-Application stage of the planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs); during this stage the developer will be preparing their application documents to be submitted to us, as well as consulting with the local community on their proposals. At this stage the application has not been finalised, and as such we advise for any concerns related to the project to be submitted directly to the developer, in order for your views to inform the application before the final version is submitted to us for consideration.

The contact information for the developer is as follows:

[email protected]
tel. 0800 377 7345

We also advise you to contact the relevant local authority with any concerns, as they are required to submit a report to us on the consultation activities undertaken by the Applicant during the Pre-Application stage once the application for the project has been submitted.

If the application is submitted and accepted by us, the appointed Examining Authority is required to take the relevant National Policy Statement into consideration, along with any other relevant policies as part of their Examination of the application prior to submitting their recommendation to the Secretary of State.

I have attached a copy of our Advice Note: Overview of the nationally significant infrastructure planning process for members of the public, which I hope you will find helpful. Please also refer to our website for further information.

16 October 2017
Mary Jones
response has attachments
I strongly object to this development and wish to protest at this scale and need for this freight hub.

I have and met with the representatives at Coven Memorial as part of their submission piece on the 22nd July.

My concerns relate to the devastating impact in regards to traffic congestion and air, noise and sound pollution due to increased volume of traffic.

In this location in regards to the A449 we already have significant issues within the Brewood Coven Penkridge area and this development will see increase in pollution and nitrous oxide levels due to the increase in HGV traffic.

I myself have breathing difficulties in regards to asthma and this will have significant impact upon the vulnerable within the community both old and young.

It has been estimated that 5000 HGVs will be making the journey in and out of the hub if it was to proceed.

There has already been a declaration from one of their officials to myself and my neighbours that there are very high levels of existing pollution noted on the A5 truck stop and feel this proposed development should have undertaken a through and robust impact health environmental assessment. The numbers and figures have not been authentically checked and they are weighted. What has not been made clear even during intensive scrutiny of the figures that this operation is a 24 our 7 day a week and therefore the residents of the A449 and A5 will see intensive noise sound air pollution. This area already has issues when the M6 becomes congested.

The developers have not undertaken a thorough needs impact health assessment and have not sufficiently research ed in regards to existing pollution levels on the A449 Stafford Road.This has been requested via our Councillor Sutton to ensure the pollution levels are correctly assessed in order to see how much they would gain. Currently we need to meet these obligations regarding increasing air quality.

My concerns also relate to the significance of jobs which will be low paid and will be few in number. Going forward these jobs would be likely be lowered due to the rise of robot technology. This development will only benefit the landowner who has currently have low rewarding agricultural land but due to this proposal see his assets rise excrementally. Also the hub if not proved to be successful can be later developed into nothing more than another road warehouse facility. I feel (FAL) Four Ashes Limited are using the special measures in order to overcome Greenbelt strict planning restrictions. This location does not provide the road infrastructure to sustain such traffic. Other locations such as Stoke do wish to have this facility therefore this should carry more weight in respect to other sites and wishes of residents regarding these developments.

Most people who struggle with plans will not realise the size and enormity of this development which has been proposed. The height and scale of this proposals is absolutely monstrous. The need has not been proven and the attempt to provide banking and build a park is nothing more than a low grade gesture in order to attempt some form of Community Relations PR exercise which most residents will see
through.

The area and beauty should be maintained, we already have seen other schemes rail- roaded to include the recycle centre and the visual impact and congestion in the area that enough is enough.

I have credibility concerns which I raised to the FAL Representative about the misrepresentation of traffic facts and figures to manipulate their shared outcome to the community within their PR information. All of these figures and claims should be independently scrutinized to ensure the community are provided with accurate facts and figures. We deserve to have FAL data verified and checked as part of the scrutiny process by experts who are independent and not on the payroll of FAL.
The staff were shipped in from London and do not have any knowledge or expertise of the area and the current traffic issues we face every day which shows utter contempt for us living in the community.

Please can you send my email and collate my concerns towards your collective campaign
Thank you for including PINS in your correspondence to the Applicant, which raises concerns relating to the proposed development.

We acknowledge that your correspondence was submitted to the Applicant in relation to their Statutory Consultation (‘Stage 2 Consultation’) carried out from 5 July to 30 August 2017. The Planning Act 2008 sets out the legislation and regulations that guides a developer on who and how to consult during the Pre-Application stage - the stage at which the West Midlands interchange project is currently in.

To assist various interest groups, PINS has recently published to our website Frequently Asked Questions ( [attachment 1] ) which provides information on the Pre-Application stage of the Planning Act 2008 planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP), which you may find helpful.

Please contact us if you have any further queries related to this project.

08 September 2017
Natalie Fraser
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
Further to our last exchange there have been statutory consultations by the proposer in July and consequential feedback response.
You will no doubt have been copied in by some respondents.
Whilst there is now considerable awareness and resistance to the proposal by the local populace, the proposer has resisted requests to engage with the affected community or the main community representatives. As the main opposition group we have made several requests both direct and indirect - without response.

We previously made you aware of an intimidating style adopted by their land agents. There has been further incidence by the same agent of secretively posting notices requesting land ownership interest details. A number of persons within the community have suggested that they may have certain land interests. However the proposer has not responded to written requests. Copy letter attached.

Additionally we note that despite the massive size of the proposal there has been no community impact assessment made. This should be a minimum requirement for all planning applications in the "strategic" category.
Thank you for your email. We note your concerns below.
As you are aware the Applicant carried out their period of statutory consultation (‘Stage 2 Consultation’) from 5 July to 30 August 2017 which invited responses on the proposed development. The Applicant via their website [attachment 1] made available copies of all Stage 2 Consultation documents for download from their Document Library. These draft documents produced by the Applicant for the proposed development are still available to review (under ‘Stage 2 Technical Documents’ tab) on their website and includes the Interim Consultation Report. If you have not already reviewed these technical documents, we would encourage you to visit the Applicants website and assess the full list available to download.

We note your concern regarding the Applicant’s Land Agents and letter issued to Four Ashes Limited on this matter. It may be useful if you contacted their Land Agents directly (BNP Paribas). Any owners, occupiers or any person with an interest in any of the Order Land associated to the West Midlands Interchange project who wish to discuss matters relating to the negotiation of agreements should contact Derry Mockett of BNP Paribas, One Redcliffe Street, Bristol, BS1 6NP (0117 98 48 424) or [email protected]

If you have not already done so, we would also advise you to contact the relevant local authority to inform them of your concerns regarding the applicant’s consultation, as your views may be added to their Adequacy of Consultation report which the local authority is required to provide to us once the application has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (the Acceptance stage of the Planning Act 2008 planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs)).

To assist various interest groups, PINS has recently published to our website Frequently Asked Questions which provides information on the Pre-Application stage of the Planning Act 2008 planning process for NSIPs. The FAQ also covers matters such as the community consultation, which may be of interest to you.

08 September 2017
Maurice Cotton
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Feedback on draft documents meeting note and advice
Please see attached

07 September 2017
anon.
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see the attached meeting note

23 March 2017
Four Ashes Ltd - anon.
Enquiry received via email
Thank you for your recent reply. However your answer suggests that the proposers letters are a benign request for information and outside of the scope set out in the Planning Act 2008.

Remember that we only sent you the covering letter not the seventeen pages of details and questions.
Those documents revealed extensive research into property and land ownership has already taken place. The tables they included detailed exactly who owns the land, including tenancies or mortgagors – together with details of what neighbours owned.
It would therefore be naïve to think that the letters are just for double checking their data at this pre-application stage; they are part of a slick strategy of applying pressure by suggestion that the project is a done deal – particularly to older or more vulnerable members of the community.
In fact the agency used by the proposer, TerraQuest, hosted a forum in London in February on how to get major infrastructure projects passed the planning inspectorate.
TerraQuest also operate the Planning Portal – possibly running PINS Portal as well?

If you have elderly parents, consider the effect of a seventeen page package arriving full of personal information and unexplained data, highlighted in red as affecting your retirement property - maybe even shaded in pink on the plans to suggest demolition.
That is not the intention of pre-application legislation.

Last week the House of Lords debated community interests in Strategic Planning matters: (Quoting from Hansard) “…. applicants are required to engage and consult local communities and local authorities from the outset, with local authorities having a role in assessing the adequacy of that consultation”.


c.29 Part 5 Chapter 2 of the 2008 Act stipulates:

42 Duty to consult those persons specified and the Local Authority for that same consultation - which was not done.

45 (2) States pre-application consultations requesting answers, to give not less than 28 days - which they did not.

46 (1) Notification to the Commission of the same information on or before commencing pre- consultation under section 42 – which was not?

47 (1) The applicant must prepare a statement detailing how to consult people living in the vicinity, in conjunction with the local authority – which it has not.
We assume that the timetable for this should have been after first consultation with PINS and taxpayer expenditure commences. Given that the pre-application stage is already in progress and that PINS have had a number of meetings and a site visit, at what stage would you expect to a Statement of Community Consultation?

52. Obtaining information about interests in land.
For a compulsory reply to property information it would require the commission to authorise it. That should have been stated - rather than to construct letters which imply it.
Currently there is no legal requirement to provide private information – including the telephone numbers and emails that were requested. A strategy to isolate and pressure individuals.

55 (3) The commission may only accept the application if the applicant has complied with Chapter 2: Pre-application procedure. By which means can the Commission know this if there is no Statement prepared?

We look forward to your response.

We hope the Planning Inspectorate will apply neutrality, fairness and rigid compliance to these proceedings. Do not forget that with a major proposal such as this (where the sole purpose of the project is to make money); the advice of influencing it in the pre-application stage is somewhat moot. This proposal is the evolution of several earlier commercial, industrial and logistics applications thrown out by local government - that have now found the magic key of parking it next to a railway. Clever and well funded developers will exploit every trick to make a project appear to save the planet and employ most of England.
For us it is not a question of objecting to minor aspects; if we don’t prevail over this application our community will cease to be.


You requested our South Staffs District Council contact: David Pattison, Director of Legal and Public Health Protection. [email protected]

We also requested clarification of registering as the group representing local community opposition to the proposal. Can this be entered now - if not when?
The covering letters you have provided to us do not appear to be statutory consultation under either Section (s)42 or s47 of the Act (the latter of which would have to be informed by a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC)) or a statutory request for information under s52. They appear to be non-statutory requests for information.

How the applicant chooses to conduct their non-statutory, pre-application public engagement activities is not something that we control. The Secretary of State has provided advice on the pre-application process, including consultation, that can be found here. I have also attached the following Advice Notes which explain in detail the planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects, which may be helpful to you:

Advice Note 8: Overview of the nationally significant infrastructure planning process for members of the public
Advice Note 8.1: Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation
Advice Note 8.2: How to register to participate in an Examination
Advice Note 8.3: Influencing how an application is Examined: the Preliminary Meeting
Advice Note 8.4: The Examination

Our full series of Advice Notes can be found here.

You have also correctly identified those sections of the Act that set out statutory pre-application consultation duties, and in addition there is s49, where the applicant has a duty to have regard to statutory responses received. If an application is submitted, the applicant will have to show, among other things, that all of the requirements in Part 2 of the Act have been met (including that a SoCC has been produced and followed) before we can consider accepting it for examination. We will invite the host and neighbouring local authorities to comment on whether or not consultation has been adequate before making that determination, and so you may wish to make your concerns known to them as well.

The best opportunity to influence the form of, or likelihood of an application is at this pre-application stage. I note your view that the applicant may not be engaging in good faith. I encourage you to respond to the applicant’s pre-application consultation, even if you have concerns about whether or not your views will be considered. One of the duties in Part 2 of the Act (s49) requires that the applicant have regard to responses to their statutory pre-application consultation.

If an application is submitted, and if one is accepted for examination, you will have the opportunity to register to participate in that examination and make submissions on whether or not the form of the proposal that is described in the application is acceptable, and whether Development Consent should be granted. The period for registering as an Interested Party to the proposed development will be at least 28 days, and the deadline for responses will be advertised by the developer in their publicity notices, as well as by ourselves on our webpage for this project, where you can also register for updates via email on key events.

07 March 2017
Stop the Gailey Freight Hub - Maurice Cotton
Enquiry received via email
This is a matter of serious concern regarding a Nationally Significant project that you have commenced giving advice on. Ref: TR050005 West Midlands Interchange

I am writing on behalf of the group representing local community opposition to the proposal.
As a group, we will register as interested parties when the application is formally lodged (September?) – or earlier if that is permitted.
The proposers, the Staffordshire County Council, the South Staffordshire District Council, all local Parish Councils, and our two MPs are already aware of our representation.

However, many of the community have, in the last few days, been harassed by some very intrusive recorded delivery envelopes stamped in red “The Content of this Letter may affect your property” and containing a letter headed “IMPORTANT: THIS COMMUNICATION MAY AFFECT YOUR PROPERTY” - giving an ultimatum of 15 days to return an EIGHT page questionaire requesting personal property and mortgage details whilst not giving any adequate explanation of the suspicious mapped areas and schedules also included.

To all of us, this appears arrogant and intrusive; but to our older and more vulnerable neighbours it is very intimidating - even threatening in one instance.
Our understanding is that the proposers (and there is no application due to be lodged until next September) are supposed to agree a Statement of Community Communication (SOCC) with the Planning Inspectorate and/or District Council and to publish that .... before making any contact, never mind intrusive requests.
As the Promoters have stated, if this proposal is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) it must follow the process as set out in the Planning Act 2008 (PA2008).

The PA2008 sets out the legislation and regulations that guides a developer on who and how to consult during the Pre-Application stage - the stage at which the West Midlands interchange project is currently in.

The legislation identifies different groups that a developer must consult with being, in headline terms, relevant local authorities, prescribed bodies, people with an interest in the land and the local community. PA2008 then sets out some requirements about how those consultation should take place (for example giving minimum deadlines for responses to be received).

In consulting with the local community, you are right that a developer needs to have published a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) before they can commence statutory consultation with local communities. It is our understanding that the Promoter is in the process of preparing that document. This does not mean that a developer is prohibited from engaging with the local community in the absence of a SoCC, just that they would need to have published a SoCC and undertaken the consultation outlined in that document before they could submit an application.

However, the SoCC only relates to consultation with the local community and does not cover how a Promoter establishes who are the relevant people with an interest in the land, and having established who they are, how to consult with them. From the information you attached to your email, this looks like a letter from the Promoter seeking to understand whether people have a (legal) interest in the land. To that end, it is not actually part of a statutory consultation and is therefore not specifically covered by the legislation and regulations.

I would strongly urge you to use the contact details on the letters you have received to discuss the matter directly with the Promoter and request further information or explanation about the process and set out your concerns on how the letters have been received.

You note that the District Council have confirmed that a SoCC should have been in place – do you have the contact details for the Officer that you spoke to, as it would be helpful for us to make contact with them to discuss this matter further.

17 February 2017
Stop the Gailey Freight Hub - Maurice Cotton
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see the attached meeting note.

09 December 2016
Four Ashes Limited - anon.
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Site visit and project update meeting
Please see attached note

22 September 2016
Four Ashes Limited
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Feedback meeting on the EIA Scoping approach
Please see attached meeting note

27 June 2016
Four Ashes Ltd
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see attached meeting note

31 May 2016
Four Ashes Ltd
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Introduction to the proposals for West Midlands Interchange SRFI
Please see attached meeting note.

29 March 2016
Four Ashes Ltd