Mercedes F1 campus transformation to go ahead
The workforce could increase from 1,400 to 1,900 people
by Nadia Lincoln, Local Democracy Reporter
A massive transformation to the Northamptonshire Mercedes F1 campus has been given the go-ahead despite fierce objections from local businesses. West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) approved the Brackley-based site’s expansion, placing particular importance on the “significant economic development benefits” that it would bring to the town.
Detailed in a planning application submitted to WNC, the motorsport team is to expand into new building space on the campus and create more staff 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.
A caveat is included alongside their building plans permitting them to use a nearby industrial cul-de-sac, St James Road, home to a variety of Brackley businesses, as their main access point. This will replace the current entrance point they have on Lauda Drive which will be modernised to provide an “innovative and collaborative centre”.
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. A security gatehouse will be fitted at the new entrance to allow access to staff between 7am- 10am and 4pm- 7pm.
Simon Wheeler, Managing Director of specialist foot health supplier Canonbury Products Ltd located on St James Road, spoke at the meeting as an objector.
“First and foremost we are extremely disappointed that Mercedes has not contacted us to discuss their proposals. Ourselves and the other businesses along St James Road feel completely sidelined in the planning process.
“We do not believe there has been sufficient information provided by Mercedes to justify the use of St James Road, other than to provide a more attractive landscape campus for their employees.
“The sheer volume of Mercedes traffic will inevitably cause queuing and disruption. In our experience, we are likely to lose valuable employees if this occurs.”
A representative of construction giant Travis Perkins, located on the industrial cul-de-sac which will now be used as a cut through for Mercedes staff, also spoke to register the company’s objection and raise their concerns with the lack of communication from Mercedes.
The campus transformation will also bring a new three-story marketing building, a health and well-being premises, an extension to the main headquarters, and further extensions to other units around the site.
With the approval of a new multi-storey car park at the rear of the site, the current parking space off Lauda Drive can be removed and landscaped to create a ‘parkland campus’ feel in the centre of the development. The original access route and central road will also be narrowed to achieve this design.
Development manager for Mercedes-AMG F1, Ian Smith, told the meeting that the company had looked at different options on access routes, but that ultimately splitting their access between the previous entrance at Lauda Drive and using St James Rd in peak hours was the “best operation”.
He added: “Our current site does not meet the future ambitions of the company moving forward. We need to make significant investment in our site and create a world-class campus which ensures that we not only attract the highest calibre of staff but also attract and retain sponsors.”
Speaking in support of the application, Councillor Ken Pritchard said: “I actually take my hat off to Mercedes-Benz thinking about how they compete from a premises perspective. I think that is very very worthwhile when you think of all the employees and economy that they’re going to bring to this area.”
The council approved the planning application, subject to conditions. It also added two notes- relating to the construction methods plan and the car park management plan- asking for Mercedes to run a consultation with local businesses before submitting these documents.
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam