Hampton-in-Arden Parish Council, Solihull Councillor Bob Sleigh and Dame Caroline Spelman MP are all opposed to the proposed Motorway Service Area (MSA) at Catherine-de-Barnes. We are seeking your help and support in fighting this planning application which is to be considered by Solihull Council Planning Committee on the 27th March. The scheme will be considered at the same time as a proposal for a separate MSA at Junction 4 of the M42.

We need your help in getting this application refused – please take a few minutes and e-mail Ward Councillor Bob Sleigh  at  rsleigh@solihull.gov.uk  with your comments and concerns. Below are the main points on which we are basing our opposition: 

a)  Green Belt: The MSA takes up a vast area of diminishing  Green Belt in this locality. There are already plans for a large area of  land, currently in Green Belt, to be taken out  to accommodate the new HS2 station and new commercial and residential development in a triangle between Stonebridge, Birmingham Business Park and the NEC (you may know this as Arden Cross or UK Central).

b) Congestion/ Safety on M42: Highways England (HE) in order to allow this development have accepted reduced weaving lengths (in some cases 58% of their own ‘Mandatory Standards). The Parish Council believe that this site is not one where a reduction in Mandatory Standards should be allowed. 

We have challenged (HE) over their projected traffic figures. Evidently it is their practice only to take into account traffic that may arise from planning applications in the public domain. They take no account of developments that are known about but have not given rise to a planning application. Hence no account has been taken of the huge development mentioned in (a). Furthermore, we understand that there has been no account of the following:

1)  the HS2 station: this will have a car park for 7000 cars;

2) expansion at Birmingham Airport: it is understood that they are planning a 5 million increase in passenger numbers;

3)  increased traffic from Resorts World and the NEC: Both of whom we believe are looking for major expansion.  

Not taking these developments into account when looking at traffic numbers in this already congested part of the motorway is highly irresponsible.

c)  Destination in its own right 

Legislation promotes that MSAs should not be destinations in their own right. This application seeks to get approval for a large hotel and conference centre. We consider that these facilities promote the MSA as a destination in its own right.

d)  Local plan 

There is no provision in the Solihull Local Plan for the building of an MSA in the Green Belt. 

e) Driver Safety

Much is written about the ‘need’ for this MSA to alleviate driver fatigue. If this is the real issue we would support a large pull-in area with toilet facilities  (in the style of the French Aire’s) which would provide the necessary area for a driver to take a break. The MSA proposed provides a facility more like a retail park in the green belt and as such the negative  impact  it creates to the green belt far outweighs the benefit it is supposed to provide. Consequently we feel it does not meet the criteria of ‘very special circumstances’ which are required for it  to get permission.

f) Congestion on the M42 and Surrounding Area

We believe that in conditions where the M42 is heavily congested or stopped there are instances where the  motorists will not be able to exit the MSA onto the motorway (which could well result in vehicles exiting the M42 to get to the Clock interchange being held up at or near the MSA  entrances and exits). This would bring the gridlock to the area.

There are other considerations to take into account – increase  in light and air pollution,  even more  increased local traffic when the M42 is congested

If you wish to register your opposition to the proposed MSA at Catherine-de-Barnes please and e-mail Cllr Bob Sleigh  at  rsleigh@solihull.gov.uk  with your comments  and concerns

Thank You