26th Oct, 2016

Residents have their say on the proposed JLR expansion

Aisling Kiely 18th Sep, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

“WE’VE doubled in size, outgrown our boundaries and now we need to continue to improve our infrastructure.

“We are here to listen and do everything we can to mitigate the effects of the building.”

That is the message to concerned residents from Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) Site Services manager Bob Parkes as controversial plans to build a 90,000m2 Logistics Operations Centre (LOC) on the cusp of Elmdon Nature Reserve and Damson Parkway are put forward.

Observer reporter Aisling Kiely went along to the public consultation at Jaguar Land Rover to hear what local residents had to say.

Allan Jones, who has lived in Damson Wood for nearly 50 years, believes the development will have a positive impact on the economy and continue to put Solihull on the map.

He added: “Nobody likes change, but unfortunately change is something we can’t stop.

“Production has changed significantly since I worked as a supervisor testing cars at JLR over 40 years ago, so the development is necessary.

“It will create jobs and boost the economy, which can only be a good sign for the borough.”

JLR is proposing to build the logistics centre as close to the existing manufacturing plant as possible to reduce transport miles, speed up production and remain competitive with other car manufacturers.

But Stephen Caines, and his wife Louise, are not keen on the plans and fear the JLR expansion will never stop.

Stephen added: “The development is just another nail in the coffin.

“We can appreciate JLR are under huge pressures, but there comes a time when enough is enough.

“When we first moved Damson Parkway, we were surrounded by fields and fields of green space where we could enjoy afternoon walks.

“But since JLR built the Dispatch Area and are now planning another massive development, the green areas around us are slowly disappearing.

“Aside from this, the roads can’t cope with the high volume of traffic at the moment, so with the development it can only get worse.”

JLR proposes to work closely with highways engineers to reduce road traffic issues and build road which will benefit local residents as well as the manufacturing plant and logistics centre.

In addition to this, the company has said the development will make the logistics network more efficient and significantly reduce the number of HGV vehicles in and out of Solihull and the West Midland’s roads.

Another resident, who regularly walks her dog around Elmdon, fears the development will encroach on the nature reserve and become an eyesore in the area.

She added: “It’s good to see the area being developed rather than being knocked down for housing.

“However, I’m concerned the development will encroach on the green space and restrict dog-walkers and ramblers.

“Also, I have growing concerns over the protection of wildlife in the reserve.”

JLR – whose propose will see building within a green belt area – is planning to build additional woodland to screen the building and reduce the noise pollution.

The proposed plans for the Logistics Operations Centre are expected to be submitted as early as November with a view of being operational by 2019.