PHOENIX 10: Clear up of contaminated site expected to begin this year
A £100 million redevelopment of the “most contaminated land in Europe” has been given the green light by Walsall planners.
Around 1,000 jobs are expected to be created when the Phoenix 10 site, off Reservoir Place, is cleaned up and around 620,000 square feet of employment space created in its place.
Walsall Council’s planning committee granted approval for the demolition of existing structures and remediation of the land, at a meeting on Thursday (April 29).
The clear up of the site is now expected to start in the autumn.
The site was formerly home to James Bridge Copper Works, which closed in 1999, and has sat derelict for more than 20 years.
The land is riddled with gases and contaminants from previous industrial uses although it is not currently harmful to those in the surrounding area.
Walsall Council started trying to clear up the area around 10 years ago.
But a deal has been struck between property developer HBD, Walsall Council and Homes England to transform the 44-acre site with funding being provided by the partners as well as Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority.
At the meeting, resident Hayley Dolan raised concerns people in the area had about the clean up process releasing pollutants into the atmosphere and water supply.
She also said many residents, particularly those on nearby Darlaston Road, would lose much needed car parking spaces as a result of the redevelopment.
But committee members said there were far more positives as a result of this development and unanimously backed the scheme.
Committee chairman and council leader Mike Bird said: “It is the most contaminated site in Europe.
“I’ve been fighting this one for more than 20 years and we managed to secure money from the Combined Authority and the HCA to enable this to come forward.
“It is many millions of pounds of public money. When we come out of this pandemic, living with Covid means we will need jobs.
“And jobs in sectors we may not have at present. People in the hospitality sector who are losing their jobs may very well be able to be retrained into something that sits on this site.
“Phoenix 10 is what we called it because it was coming out of the ashes and all I can say is I’ll be glad when its done.”
Walsall Labour group leader and committee member Aftab Nawaz added: “I understand some of the concerns residents have but I think this development by far outweighs any objections.
“The benefit, not only to the area but the borough as a whole is massive.
“It not only cleans up contaminated land, some of the work that will go on there is long awaited. It’s a great opportunity for the area.”
After the meeting, Simon Raiye, Director at HBD, said: “This site is the largest undeveloped brownfield site in the Black Country and has huge regeneration potential.
“Having been derelict for more than 20 years, the first step is the remediation of the site, which is due to get underway in the Autumn.
“It’s an exciting scheme that will add massive value to the local community in Walsall and support a thriving regional economy.”
Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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