Major Leicestershire logistics park expansion plan poses 'massive traffic issues'

Overhead view of proposed land set for development at Mercia Park
Developers claim the proposed expansion would 'capitalise' on Mercia Park's existing links -Credit:Google

A major expansion plan for a Leicestershire logistics park has emerged. Official proposals have yet to be submitted for the Mercia Park scheme, but concerns have already been raised about its impacts.

The scoping proposal, put forward by IM Properties Development Ltd, looks to expand the current office and warehouse offerings at Mercia Park, in Appleby Magna, south of Ashby on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border. The plan would see two major new “employment blocks” built on vacant land between the A444 and junction 11 of the M42 opposite the existing 3.5 million sq ft logistics park, which is home to Jaguar Land Rover and DSV.

The first new warehouse and offices would be on the western side of the land and would span more than 10 hectares, while more than 7.6 hectares would be occupied by further development in the eastern portion of the proposal. Scoping documents from the applicant suggest there would be “no likely or significant effects” from their plans, but parish councillors and residents are already worried about the impacts.

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Access to the expansion, which developers say “capitalises” on Mercia Park’s existing links, would be gained from a new three-arm roundabout off the A444, causing concern about increased traffic and congestion in the area. Oakthorpe and Donisthorpe Parish Council are among those to hit out at the plan, claiming that the expansion could exacerbate the already “massive traffic issues” on the M42.

Residents are similarly concerned, with one claiming that the roundabout - the Appleby Magna Interchange - was frequently “gridlocked”. Others have questioned the need for the expansion at all.

One said: “The park as it is now, was not and never has been welcome. We have seen an increase in traffic in and around our village and the unsightly buildings are so large they will never be out of sight. I cannot see why this development needs to be extended.”

DTA, on behalf of the developers, said potential traffic issues could be resolved by utilising “existing transport infrastructure” such as bus links to Mercia Park. They claimed the development could even give them the “opportunity” to promote walking or cycling rather than travel by car.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential loss of the green land, with parish councillors claiming it “conflicts” with conservation efforts. However, Turley, who are leading the scheme’s Environmental Impact Assessment, say “biodiversity retention, enhancement and creation” will feature as part of the plan. They added such efforts will benefit both “employees and the local community”.

IM Properties Developments Ltd say that if approved, the site would be operational by 2027. A full planning application will be submitted in due course, with a decision then made by North West Leicestershire District Council’s planning committee at a later date.