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December 2016 progress update

Four Ashes Limited is pleased to share its progress on the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) proposals as they evolve.

Since the end of our Stage 1 Consultation four months ago, we have focused on options for the potential layout of the SRFI. The new illustrative masterplan below represents our progress since June 2016.

December 2016 Illustrative Masterplan

Above: Illustrative masterplan. This plan shows a potential layout for the West Midlands Interchange including terminal location and road and rail infrastructure. The layout is illustrative only and elements will change as the proposals are developed. (Please click on the image to download a higher resolution version).


The plan now shows a full length rail terminal on the west side of the rail line and the layout improvements that have been made to address concerns raised by local residents and stakeholder groups.

The illustrative masterplan will continue to be tested, specifically against the impacts the proposals could have on the local area. As we refine the detail we are looking at additional ways in which to reduce these impacts on local people, the conservation area and the environment.

Key points from the latest illustrative masterplan

Location

  1. The location of the proposed terminal is to the west of the rail line. This removes the need for an additional rail bridge over the canal to the south of Croft Lane (a feature of the east option), and will have less impact on the residents of Croft Lane.
  1. The proposed roundabout on the A5 has been moved 30m further east, minimising the impact on the character of the conservation area. By moving roundabout traffic and the main spine road further east we have also been able to increase the screen planting between the new access road and the canal.

Terminal layout

  1. The scheme proposals have been moved further away from the residents in Station Drive. In addition the layout of the proposed terminal has been amended in order to lessen the impact on residents in the Station Drive area. A full length terminal allows a more efficient layout which spreads unloading activity along the length of the rail line rather than concentrating it towards the south of the site.  The longer terminal also removes the need to break up train loads, reduces shunting and thereby reduces noise.

Green infrastructure and environment

  1. We have developed a green infrastructure plan to increase the amount of land given over to amenity space and landscaping, in order to screen the development from existing local residents. Specifically, we have identified community park areas in the Calf Heath Village and Straight Mile area to the south, and for the Croft Lane area in the north.  The plan demonstrates the strength of the developing landscaping strategy for the site. Landscape buffer zones will be 30m (100ft) – 50m (160ft) wide around the perimeter of the site. This stronger green infrastructure plan will continue to develop in discussion with a number of statutory bodies, including Natural England, to address visual, landscape and ecological matters.
  1. Our ecology strategy, including wildlife corridors and habitat considerations, has been integral to the development of the green infrastructure plan for the site and there are ongoing discussions with various environmental bodies to ensure we take full account of these considerations in our proposals. We will continue to accumulate survey work to inform the evolution of the scheme.

We are working hard to address all of the concerns that we have heard so far and will continue to do so until we are ready for stage two consultation in spring 2017.

In the meantime we will be evolving the potential illustrative masterplan layout in discussion with key statutory bodies and stakeholders to ensure that it addresses all technical requirements.  This includes ongoing work with Highways England, Staffordshire County Council, South Staffordshire District Council and the City of Wolverhampton Council in relation to highways considerations, and a similar range of bodies in respect of rail considerations.