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.