Planning approval sought for new logistics park near East Midlands Airport

Plans to turn land near East Midlands Airport (EMA) into a new hi-tech logistics and manufacturing park as part of the East Midlands Freeport have taken a major step forward this week.

MAG (Manchester Airports Group), which owns and operates EMA, has submitted a planning application to North West Leicestershire District Council detailing the proposals for a site just south of the A453 alongside the airport.

If approved, the development could result in more than 2,000 new jobs once fully operational and employ up to 174 people during a two-year construction period.

It’s estimated the new development could contribute up to £132m per year in GVA (Gross Value Added), to the East Midlands economy along with almost £9m in additional annual business rates contributions.

The land has been designated a tax site as part of East Midlands Freeport to help attract new investment and jobs to the region. The draft local plan also identifies it as a potential location for strategic distribution, located in the heart of the country close to the M1 and major road network, the UK’s number one dedicated cargo airport, and the East Midlands Gateway rail freight hub and logistics park – all within what’s known as the UK’s logistics ‘Golden Triangle.’

Documents lodged with the council seeking its approval describe the outline proposals as several units up to 25m tall, providing up to 135,000 square metres of floorspace for general industrial and storage or distribution uses, along with offices. The largest units would be located closest to the A453, with smaller units along the southern end of the site. This would help towards meeting a need identified by North West Leicestershire District Council for 2.5m square metres of additional warehousing in the area by 2041.

Significant landscaping is proposed, including extensive buffers along the south and west perimeters to screen the site through a combination of existing vegetation, new plants and trees, earth bunds and fencing. The documents also set out how drainage, energy efficiency, lighting, rights of way and local wildlife will all be taken into account. Traffic has also been considered, with a new access road onto the site from an existing roundabout on the A453 and a new roundabout proposed as another access point. Parking for cars, HGVs and cycles is included in the plans, while space is left aside for the potential widening of the A453. Provision will also be made for public transport services, as well as routes for cyclists and walkers.

MAG representatives have held a number of consultation meetings with representatives from the closest village of Diseworth, including a site visit earlier this year. The proposals take the proximity of the village into account, maximizing green space near Diseworth, limiting building height, ensuring service yards face away from the village and choosing appropriate lighting options. The closest building would be more than 320 metres away.

EMA’s managing director Steve Griffiths said: “This is a prime site for a development of this kind, given its proximity to major road and rail networks and the UK’s number one express air cargo hub. Given its status as a Freeport tax site, we are confident that if approved, we will have little difficulty in attracting businesses, bringing much-needed jobs to the region during its construction and operation.

“The proposals we have submitted to the council outline how we have carefully considered the opportunities and constraints of the site, seeking to strike the balance between the need for such a development against the potential impact on the environment and local residents. We have met and will continue to meet members of Diseworth Parish Council and community groups and have aimed to address their concerns in our proposals.”

Tom Newman-Taylor, Chief Executive of East Midlands Freeport, said: “Our mission is to act as a catalyst for economic regeneration across the East Midlands to create thousands of jobs boosting skills for local workers, and accelerating the region’s commitment to decarbonisation through sustainable development and low-carbon energy investments.

“We support moves by our key partners to develop the Freeport’s strategically important sites which offer unparalleled connectivity to the rest of the UK. We also welcome the consultation the airport has carried out with the local community and the steps they have taken to address their concerns as part of the process.”