Brackley businesses “up in arms” over Mercedes-AMG F1 plans

05/01/2024

pic: Nadia Lincoln

They say vehicular use of what is currently a cul-de-sac will increase almost ten fold

by Nadia Lincoln, Local Democracy Reporter

Businesses in a Northamptonshire town are “up in arms” about a planning application submitted by Mercedes-AMG F1 – due to concerns their road could be inundated with traffic. The Brackley-based motorsport campus is looking to use St James Road, which is currently a small cul-de-sac home to a variety of businesses, as a new main access point for its staff.

During peak morning hours council officers have estimated that the number of cars turning into St James Road will increase from 57 to 528, and similarly raise the number from 50 to 297 in evening peaks. The access point will replace the entrance currently in use on Lauda Drive, stemming from a roundabout on Oxford Road. The plans will go to West Northamptonshire Council next week (January 9) to decide whether permission is granted.

Simon Wheeler, Managing Director of specialist foot health supplier Canonbury Products Ltd said that “not a single business” on the street was made aware of the planning application. The healthcare specialist occupies a large warehouse at the end of St James Road which is just next to the proposed gatehouse and access route and has been based in Brackley for over a decade.

He said: “Everyone is up in arms about the idea of this happening because at the moment we all have fairly unfettered access into this premises which means we have no issues getting staff or commercial vehicles in.

“If you’ve got several hundred cars first thing in the morning and last thing at night trying to enter and exit the site it’s going to cause absolute pandemonium. Our customers, our suppliers, or our employees all of a sudden could be having to leave home earlier to avoid getting caught up in everyone else’s traffic.”

pic: Nadia Lincoln

He also pointed out the frequency of articulated goods and HGVs that need access to the road and could cause further traffic issues. Many of the large businesses rely on deliveries- such as construction giant Travis Perkins and workshop systems experts DURA- which Mr Wheeler said could create a “chokepoint” in tandem with the security gatehouse.

“There’s no interest in looking after the smaller businesses- it’s a case of we’re Mercedes, we’ll do what we want and you just have to get on with it. That’s just grossly disrespectful for businesses that have been here for a similar length of time as them,” Mr Wheeler added.

Director of Jeep-chrysler.co.uk Ltd -which specialises in American car parts – Przemyslaw Polak, also highlighted on-street car parking as a potential issue. The Mercedes application includes a proposal to extend the double yellow lines along the whole of the northern stretch of St James Road.

Mr Polak said: “We’re growing every year so we’re already tight with the parking spaces. At some point we will need this street parking and they’re wanting to do the double yellows all along.”

The company moved into the Brackley warehouse in July 2021 and attributed their relocation to easy access compared to their previous unit. Mr Polak says that the plans would now make the site “inaccessible” during peak hours. The business relies on continuous access to its loading bay and says that delays because of traffic could impact its ability to ship parts to customers on time.

Mr Polak added: “I think somebody should pop in and just do a full explanation of how it’s going to be. There’s not much we can do actually- they are a powerful company. We just don’t understand the idea of putting it along this road if they can reorganise it so that it wouldn’t affect anyone.”

Filip Domozych, General Manager, said that the main issue he had was the lack of explanation.  He added: “We didn’t know anything about it to be honest. If it’s not going to affect us that much then we wouldn’t mind but we don’t even know.”

The plans

Detailed in their hybrid planning application submitted to West Northamptonshire Council, Mercedes seeks to expand into new building space on the campus on top of increasing the available parking on site. Plans to expand their operations over the next five years could also see the workforce increase from 1,400 to 1,900 people.

The campus extension includes a three-story marketing building, a health and well-being building adjacent to the A43, an extension to the main headquarters, and an increase of unit one to a two-story height.

The new car park will create an additional 659 spaces, as well as more permanent parking next to Brackley Town Football Club with 156 spaces. Two empty homes accessed from Herrieffs Farm Lane will be demolished to make way for the parking space.

Staff will be able to access the Mercedes campus through St James Road only between 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm. A security gatehouse will be fitted at the entrance to the site and will be accessed by a security card, with guards manning the gate at peak times.

The road is also used by the West Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue and Police services and will see a yellow hatched no waiting box outside the premises to ensure that emergency vehicles can swiftly leave and return.

A spokesperson for Mercedes-AMG F1 said: “During the planning application process, we have gone through all appropriate channels including consultation with the Planning Department, which includes a period of public consultation.

“In addition, we have had lengthy consultation with both the Local Highways Department and the National Highways Agency who have audited and verified our independent traffic surveys. We have also consulted with local Emergency Services and agreed a plan of road enhancements to ensure easy egress if required in an emergency from St James Road.

“The concerns raised by the specialist highways consultant employed by one of the local businesses have been reviewed to ensure that the proposed works have the least possible impact on the business. This approach has been agreed with the local Highways team.

“In addition to this we will be enhancing the local footpaths and cycle paths around our site entrance, adding a new pedestrian crossing to the Oxford Road and undertaking works to the roads to aid traffic flows.

“As a major employer in Brackley, we always endeavour to maintain good relations and dialogue with our stakeholders and to maximise our positive impact in the local area. We will continue to do so as we progress through this process.”


Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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