Developing for the West Midlands


When Aston Martin launched its DBX crossover at the Geneva motor show in September last year, the media wondered where the new model would be built. Five months later, they had an answer. From 2020, the DBX will roll off the production line at a new purpose-built factory in South Wales.

Although the West Midlands is the heartland of the UK automotive industry and the only region to have a trade surplus with China, it was unlikely that the new DBX would be built here. As David Bailey, professor of industrial strategy at Aston Business School pointed out, the West Midlands has some fundamental weaknesses, one of which is the shortage of industrial land.

Confronting the problem, Professor Bailey urged policymakers to allow the “development of greenbelt land so as to boost availability and the creation of manufacturing jobs.” Since the West Midlands greenbelt includes sites that have been previously developed for industrial uses, releasing this land for regeneration would seem the logical first step.

The 50 acre former ‘B Station’ site that Prologis acquired, subject to planning, from E.ON at Hams Hall is one of these brownfield sites. In the last century, Hams Hall was one of the largest electricity-generating power stations in Europe; the first phase, ‘A Station’ opened in 1929, followed by ‘B Station’ in 1942 and ‘C Station’ in 1958. By 1992, the power station had closed and for over 20 years, the ‘B Station’ site has been derelict. Situated next to the existing Hams Hall distribution park and rail freight terminal, ‘B Station’ could be remediated and redeveloped to provide around 875,000 square foot of new high quality buildings in a prime location for logistics and industrial occupiers.

Creating Employment Sites

The regeneration of ‘B Station’ would be a complex process, but we have a long track record of transforming brownfield sites into modern business parks that are attracting thousands of skilled jobs to the West Midlands.

Prologis has got industrial development down to a fine art, producing a steady stream of massive transformational projects.

Judges comments, West Midlands Insider Property Awards

For example

Prologis Park Coventry
We redeveloped the former Coventry Colliery and Homefire coke-producing plant into an award-winning industrial and distribution park of over 2 million square foot, bringing around 2,700 jobs to the area.

Prologis Park Ryton near Coventry
We are regenerating the former Peugeot works, where we are building around 1.95 million square foot for customers such as Network Rail, UK Mail and Jaguar Land Rover, who are creating about 2,600 jobs.

Prologis Park Midpoint at Minworth
We developed a 1.36 million square foot logistics park on the site of a former sewage waste treatment plant, bringing around 1,800 jobs to the local community.

Each of these developments had their own challenges, but perhaps the most daunting was Midpoint, which we acquired when we bought Severn Trent Water Property Ltd in 2006. A former waste treatment plant for the nearby Minworth Sewage Works, the site contained 103 sludge drying beds, which had been inactive for over 20 years, allowing the accumulated waste to emit greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide – into the atmosphere.

Having agreed a site remediation strategy with Birmingham City Council and the Environment Agency, we started to reclaim the land for development; a project that included stabilising 70,104m3 of raw sewage in the drying beds.

As soon as we began construction work, Prologis Park Midpoint started attracting occupiers, who now include The Pallet Network, Kuehne+Nagel and Europa Worldwide. By early 2015, we had let the final two buildings: 477,000 square foot to Jaguar Land Rover and 127,000 square foot to Syncreon for its contract with JLR. With these two deals, the regeneration of Midpoint was complete.

With the release of more land, we can continue to deliver the facilities needed by the region’s leading employers – including those in the automotive industry.

Read the other articles in the latest Prologis Review, Summer 2016
Click here