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Silverwoods scheme gets green light

Leading property specialists St Francis Group’s exciting plans for a major redevelopment of the former British Sugar factory site in Worcestershire have been given the go ahead by planners.

The proposed Silverwoods development could create over 400 jobs and will see the redundant 74-acre site in Kidderminster completely transformed, providing a mix of uses including residential, employment, leisure and retail.

St Francis Group’s plans for the site, located on Stourport Road, have been described as one of the most important development opportunities in North Worcestershire for more than 25 years.

The proposals took a major step forward today (July 10) when outline planning consent was granted by Wyre Forest District Council. The authority has worked closely with St Francis Group to develop a masterplan to rejuvenate the neglected site and surrounding area.

In recommending approval of outline planning consent, the planning report concluded that the proposed retail uses would not have a significant harm upon the town or nearby local centre. It added that “the proposals pay due regard to sustainability, land contamination, the impact upon heritage assets, air quality, drainage, biodiversity and the amenity of existing and proposed residential occupiers, and that due to the vegetation which is to be retained and the proposed layout the scheme is acceptable”.

British Sugar closed its Kidderminster operation in 2004 and the former sugar beet processing and production plant was acquired in 2006.

All the buildings on the site have been taken down apart from 70-meter high twin silos, which can be seen as far away as Tenbury Wells and the Lickey Hills. The silos are in the process of being demolished.

Jim Kelly, managing director of Warwickshire-based St Francis Group, said: “We have always had tremendous support from the local authorities of Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove and Redditch throughout the process, and we are excited at the prospect of soon being able to begin the first phase of the Silverwoods development.”

Mr Kelly added: “Silverwoods will be the focus of new innovation and investment and promises to be Worcestershire’s leading major mixed use development over the next three years.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was recently joined by regional business leaders, representatives of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, and leaders from Wyre Forest District Council as he took the first step to demolish the two silos on the site. The redevelopment is part of the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park.

He was also presented with a copy of the Local Development Order (LDO) for the park. He said: “This is a wonderful example of how coming together through local enterprise partnerships can meet the needs of a local economy. Wyre Forest have used their own planning powers, together with contributions from the Growing Places Fund, to unlock this forgotten brownfield site.

“I’m delighted to be here today to help them take the first steps to creating the Hoo Brook Link Road and the regeneration of this site which is set to become the doorway to the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park.”

Support has included the offer of a £1.2 million loan from Worcestershire LEP and a similar loan from Birmingham LEP from the Government’s Growing Places Fund. Mr Kelly added: “We very much appreciate the offer of loans from the two LEPs which clearly demonstrates their support for our proposals and that they have confidence in what we are trying to achieve at Silverwoods.”

The loans could help spearhead progress of the first phase of the scheme by funding the majority of the Hoo Brook Link Road, which is eventually intended to connect the Stourport Road with the Worcester Road. The second and final phase of development of the Silverwoods site will be pursued when the link road is built.

Agents Colliers International and Harris Lamb are jointly appointed to market the site. For further information contact Simon Norton (Colliers International) on 0121 265 7513/simon.norton@colliers-uk.com or Charles D’Auncey (Harris Lamb) on 0121 213 6002/charles.dauncey@harrislamb.com.

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