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Lobby groups oppose plans for World Logistics Hub off A538 …

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has submitted an outline planning application for the development of a World Logistics Hub on former green belt land off the A538 Wilmslow Road. The plans will create between 1.2 to 1.4 million square feet of new logistics space in the southern part of Greater Manchester’s Enterprise Zone which the company says will generate more than 1,800 new jobs for local people over the next 10 to 15 years. The proposed development is for a mixture of medium and small sized logistics units ranging from approximately 7,500 to 200,000 square feet across a 36.9 hectare site next to Junction 6 of the M56 motorway, and close to the existing airport freight area.

The proposals also include 14.8 hectares of new landscaped areas and habitats surrounding the site. John Atkins, MAG’s Airport City Director, said: “This scheme will create a sustainable commercial product of international significance that will provide high quality and well-connected logistics facilities with access to the global marketplace and a population of over 24m people within a two-hour drive time. “This connectivity will create an exceptional opportunity to improve international trade, cut transit times and drive more efficient, sustainable supply chains whilst supporting the local community, increasing employment opportunities and stimulating economic activity in the North West.” Primary access to World Logistics Hub will be via the A538 Wilmslow Road, with junction upgrades made at Sunbank Lane. Several members of the A556 Lobby Group joined members of Ringway Parish Council, action group Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport and over 80 local residents on Wednesday 5th September to voice their opposition to the proposed World Logistic Hub which they say “would see 90 acres of former greenbelt land wiped out in favour of 43 cargo warehouses and almost 1,500 car parking spaces”.

Matt Parkinson, from the A556 Lobby Group, was one of those who attended. He said “We have long suspected that the proposed A556 bypass has more to do with facilitating Government plans for the massive expansion of Manchester Airport, than to provide an “environmental improvement” to the people living alongside the current A556. “We expressed our concerns that the developments around Manchester Airport are being brought to the public’s attention piecemeal, these will affect a much wider surrounding area ultimately engulfing significant parts of Cheshire into the planned “Airport City” and supporting infrastructure. “This latest proposal from the airport to build a ‘World Logistics Centre’ on countryside near Ashley will see further irreversible destruction of our Cheshire countryside. We feel the time has come for all local groups fighting to save their villages, countryside and way of life to join together, to realise the bigger picture and to oppose the notion of ‘growth’ at any cost.

We believe the vast majority of people would prefer to see targeted investment in sustainability in order to create jobs which genuinely benefit society, human well-being and our environment rather than local MP, George Osborne’s obsession with growth for growths sake.” Claims that the development will create employment for the area were rejected by the lobby groups. Audrey O’Donovan, Chairman of Ringway Parish Council said “The plans for a ‘World Logistics Hub’ would involve the eviction of residents, the destruction of valuable greenspace for local people, an increase in traffic congestion, carbon emissions and noise pollution from the Airport’s cargo services. “The area to the south of the Airport is currently home to residential houses and greenfields and also borders onto Cotterill Clough – a Site of Special Scientific Interest. “The Airport claim new jobs will be created. However, many of these jobs will not be ‘new’ but simply ‘displaced’ as existing firms re-locate from other areas of Greater Manchester to take advantage of the cheap business rates on offer.” The World Logistics Hub is located in the southern part of Greater Manchester’s Enterprise Zone.

Designated as an Enterprise Zone by the UK Government in March 2011, it is centred on the Airport City project, which aims to transform Manchester Airport from a regional transport hub into an international business destination in its own right, attracting global businesses that would not have otherwise located in the region, or even the UK. The 650m Airport City scheme the first of its kind in the UK was unveiled by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in January 2012. Around 1.5 million sq ft of office space; 650,000 sq ft of advanced manufacturing; around 2,500 new hotel beds; and up to 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, will also be developed on land surrounding Manchester Airport’s public transport interchange and to north of the M56 spur road – which they anticipate will create up to 20,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.

The outline planning application, submitted to Manchester City Council, follows consultation by Manchester Airports Group with local residents and businesses. For more information see www.airportcity.co.uk. Here’s what readers have had to say so far.

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Lobby groups oppose plans for World Logistics Hub off A538 …

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