I54 Motors Into A New Future?
Sometimes life can be cruel, and timing horribly unfunny. The granting of planning consent for 1M SF of new industrial development on the doorstep of JLR's Wolverhampton engine plants comes just as the car industry in general, and JLR in particular, hit a nasty swerve.
The i54 site at Wobaston Road, Pendeford, Wolverhampton (but in the area of South Staffordshire District Council), is close to junction 2 of the M54 motorway, and since it was mooted in 2005 its prospects have been dominated by Jaguar Land Rover, which occupies an advanced engine plant on the site.
Earlier this month JLR revealed 4,500 job cuts, predominantly in its UK workforce.
JLR's official response to the planning application noted that "additional development of the site should not undermine existing businesses, and their future growth plans".
The i54 site is not entirely about cars, with Moog Aircraft Group, ISP Printers and laboratory testing company Eurofins also in the area, but the auto sector has long been its prime appeal, with the assumption that suppliers would cluster around the JLR plant. Around 2M SF has been developed in the last four years.
The importance of the i54 site is recognised in the adopted Black Country Core Strategy as being one of the premier high-quality employment locations in the West Midlands and a focus for leading-edge high-technology industry.
The 57-acre extension that has now been approved is part of a 192-acre zone allocated for expansion at i54.