PLANS have been unveiled for a new ‘hidden’ and ‘significantly smaller’ Motorway Service Area (MSA) at junction 4 of the M42 near Shirley.
The proposal by Applegreen seeks to offer an alternative to the proposed Catherine de Barnes scheme which, as well as being around a sixth of the size, would also not require the loss of ancient woodland.
The Catherine de Barnes site would take up just under 62 hectares of land, while the new ‘sustainable’ Applegreen project is promising to occupy just nine hectares.
The project, which would bring up to 300 jobs to the area and is situated on the Bentley Heath side of the motorway, has been deigned by AFL Architects whose Gloucester Services project has been praised for its approach to sustainability and impact on boosting local supply chains.
The proposals being developed include a grass covered canopy design that shields the main amenity building and works with grass covered banks to effectively shield it from the M42 and from neighbouring communities.
Des Stafford, Head of Developments UK for Applegreen, said: “We are committed to creating new jobs for local people to boost local economies.
“Alongside that, there will be opportunities for increased business for local traders.
“Minimising our impact on the environment and the landscape is a priority for us and we will deliver this through great design.
“Our approach is to use new best practices to create service areas that are both welcoming, offer value and do not cause issues for our neighbours.”
The strategic location of the Applegreen site, which is directly connected to the existing roundabout at junction 4 of the M42, means it does not need new road infrastructure to be built.
The developer will present its proposals as part of a community consultation exercise in the summer ahead of any planning submissions to Solihull Council.
An application for outline planning permission for the Catherine de Barnes site was submitted in June 2015 and is awaiting decision.
The need for a Motorway Service Area on the Solihull stretch of the M42 was confirmed by the then Secretary of State in 2009 who said there was a ‘significant need for a new MSA in this area for highways safety reasons’.
It was added that the benefit of an MSA would need to outweigh any adverse affects on the local Green Belt – which is where Applegreen is hoping its smaller, environmentally conscious project will win out.
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