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5th Jul, 2022

Solihull Councillor hopes planning inspector refuses M42 service station plans

Sarah Mason 26th Jan, 2022 Updated: 26th Jan, 2022

A BICKENHILL Councillor is keeping his fingers crossed the decision to refuse planning permission for two motorway service stations on the M42 in Solihull is upheld.

Councillor Jim Ryan is hoping the inquiry, which was overseen by Michael Bonniface from the planning inspectorate, is mindful of the Transport Select Committee’s decision to pause the rollout of smart motorways so more safety data can be collected when making the final decision which was supported by the Government.

Last year two controversial plans to build stop-offs at junction 4 in Shirley and on land between Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes were thrown out by Solihull Council’s planning committee.

Coun Jim Ryan.

The long-awaited decision was made on the applications, which were first submitted to the planning department in 2016 and 2015 respectively, have been held off for several years.

Following the meeting Appegreen – the developers for the Shirley plans – and Extra MSA Group – the developers for the land between Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes launched an appeal which finished hearing evidence in November.

The decision has yet to be announced.

Speaking to The Observer Coun Ryan said: “The Catherine-de-Barnes application almost entirely relies on the smart motorways running to operate.

“They may never be able to implement their plans if given approval and could need a total re-think.

“What worries me is the devastation to the greenbelt in Catherine-de-Barnes.

“I am hoping the inspector will refuse both of the applications and a less damaging site is found for the motorway service areas.”

Over the years the proposals came up against fierce opposition from former Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and current MP Saqib Bhatti and councillors as well as residents across the borough.

They said that either development would add to existing traffic problems and destroy the local Green Belt.

However both applicants argue there is a clear need for a services along that stretch of motorway.

Extra MSA Group, which has applied for the services near Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes, said it would create up to 300 jobs with a bus service available for employees. They would also build a hotel and a new access road.

Applegreen plc wants to create an ‘environmentally responsible’ motorway services near Shirley with extensive landscaping.

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