Business backs plans for employment site’s major extension

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A Staffordshire business which was involved in the development of one of the county’s leading employment sites has backed plans for its extension.

The western extension plans for i54 South Staffordshire have now been passed by South Staffordshire Council.

Aggregates and waste material solution firm FGD, which is based in Wombourne, is supporting the extension plans for i54 South Staffordshire having worked on the original site construction.

The business has taken on 11 new employees since its involvement with i54 South Staffordshire. It has also developed three apprentices who all live within five miles of its Wombourne headquarters.

FGD’s work during construction involved removing 200,000 tonnes of soil from the site and taking on 200,000 tonnes of stone. It also removed contaminated soil which was processed and reused – saving £500,000 in tip costs.

Since it took on the i54 South Staffordshire contract in 2012, FGD has seen its annual turnover increase from £9m to £23m. The i54 contract has directly contributed between £6m and £7m. This has allowed the company to invest in new technology to improve efficiency.

FGD is now looking forward to further growth plans and local expansion, taking on more employees and apprentices. It has a second office in Rugby and customers across the country.

The company used a Wombourne business to livery its vehicles, a local business to design its website and a building firm from Kinver to expand its offices.

Spencer Davies, director of FGD, said: “FGD Limited firmly believes in investment in local people and promoting within. This core ethos only happens when growth happens locally to. Such further investment into the i54 site will allow this to continue for many years.”

More than £1 billion has so far been invested in the current i54 site, with 2,500 people employed by multi-national companies JLR, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Tentec with a further 2,100 jobs anticipated over the next few years. Over 3,500 students have also benefitted from a targeted skills and education programme.

i54 and its expansion play an integral part of the Midlands Engine strategy to maximise the economic potential of the area.  It is also backed by both the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and Black Country Local Enterprise Partnerships and local businesses.

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “The success of i54 South Staffordshire has been outstanding – attracting global leaders in their sectors and thousands of skilled jobs.

“While we celebrate the fact that these businesses are located here, i54 South Staffordshire has a huge impact across our area as the experience of FGD demonstrates.

“From construction firms to supply chain industries and retail and leisure establishments; this business park leads to a thriving local, regional and national economy and all the opportunities that brings for local business and people.

“We are proud of how the local government partnership worked together to achieve this and we have been rightly recognised by Government and the business community.

“It is therefore no surprise about the demand to locate here – and the subsequent need for expansion. i54 South Staffordshire will play a vital part in the Midlands Engine and in the growing productivity of Staffordshire and our neighbours.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “i54 is one of the UK’s premier advanced manufacturing business parks.

“Our joint investment at i54 has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of further investment and has brought thousands of jobs to the area, with 40 per cent of employees living within a ten-mile radius.

“Demand is high for more accommodation from potential investors and the western extension will enable us to deliver that for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

Stoke-on-Trent makes the shortlist for Channel 4 hub

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Stoke-on-Trent has made the shortlist to be a creative hub for Channel 4.

The national broadcaster has today (Wednesday) named Stoke-on-Trent on its shortlist to be one of two creative hubs– where television makers for major national and international programmes will be based.

Oscar-winning film maker Rachel Shenton, who is a member of the city’s bid team, says the shortlisting recognises Stoke-on-Trent’s creativity and innovation, and the ambition of people to get the job done.

Rachel, who cast, shot and produced her Academy Award-winning short film The Silent Child in the city, said: “This is fantastic news for Stoke-on-Trent. I’ve given my full backing to the bid and am thrilled that Channel 4 has recognised our creativity, passion and capabilities.

“My experience in working for Channel 4 on flagship soap Hollyoaks helped me to grow creatively. It is an edgy, dynamic and boundary-pushing broadcaster. It gives a voice to under-represented people and groups. In Stoke-on-Trent it will find a city with the flair to create exciting new content and an infrastructure of talented film and production companies that is already embedded and is helping creative people to thrive.

“Stoke-on-Trent is a fantastic opportunity for Channel 4 to develop its gifted creative teams, reach out to new audiences and produce the kind of programmes that sets it apart from other broadcasters.”

Stoke-on-Trent will now join other shortlisted cities in making presentations to Channel 4 in June. The organisation will then make its final decision on 1 October.

Channel 4 is creating two hubs as well as a new national headquarters outside of London. The moves are the biggest organisational changes in the broadcaster’s 35-year history – measures it says will boost UK nations and regions by £250m. In the broadcaster’s brochure on the changes, it says the creative hubs will be home to programme-commissioning editors responsible for some of its biggest shows, who will oversee ‘significant spend’. It will create 300 jobs in the UK’s nations and regions, and intends to open both hubs and the headquarters in 2019.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader Abi Brown said: “We are delighted to have made the shortlist. If we go on to be successful, this will result in new, highly skilled jobs, and multi-million pound investment. It yet again shows Stoke-on-Trent not only has the ability to compete with other cities but is also a serious and significant national player.

“We know that our city has a compelling case. We have an outstanding geographical location. We have highly skilled local graduates, from two universities that have first class facilities for creative people to grow their talents. We have a significant number of independent TV and digital companies within easy reach of the city.

“The shortlisting continues our momentum that we are a confident and forward-looking city. It builds on our success of being shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021, in being considered by Heathrow Airport to be one of its national logistics hubs, and in securing HS2 services that will further transform our infrastructure.”

Residents, businesses and creative groups across the city and beyond are encouraged to take to social media again and celebrate the shortlisting, using the hashtag #C4Stoke. When the city’s bid was first submitted on May 10 it was met with such a groundswell of support that the hashtag trended nationally in the top 10 on Twitter – the only bidding city to have galvanised such a response on submission day.

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy, said: “Our city is on the up and Channel 4 will find huge support from a range of partners to establish a new home that will help them grow as a pioneering and strong voice for the UK.

“Bringing Channel 4 to Stoke-on-Trent would have a significant positive impact on the local economy, much more so than in other cities that have benefited from regeneration funding over a much longer period of time.

“We are in a great position, but we also know that we have to ensure our final pitch leaves the corporation with no doubts at all that Stoke-on-Trent is absolutely the right place to create a hub.”

Peter Rudge, chair of Platform and associate professor of motion picture industries at Staffordshire University, said: “Being shortlisted is great news and testament to the growing recognition that the city is a destination for innovative and exciting moving image production. Platform has just been named as one of Creative England’s top 50 leaders and innovators, along with cluster members, Carse and Waterman, Rachel Shenton and Enlighten – all Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire-based companies and individuals. This is a concrete example of the momentum that is now behind the moving image industry in the region.”

Staffordshire University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: “It is fantastic news for the city to be shortlisted and recognises the wealth of creative and digital talent in our region.

“As a leading Digital University with strong industry links we are ideally placed to supply skilled and experienced graduates that an employer like Channel 4 would need.

“Stoke-on-Trent is a serious contender to be the home of the new Channel 4 hub and Staffordshire University will continue to support the bid whole-heartedly.”

The bid has cross-party support from the city’s MPs, as well as a host of celebrities and influential creative leaders.

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton said: “It is fantastic that Channel 4 has shortlisted our bid for a hub to be located in Stoke-on-Trent.

“We have the creativity, talent and location that would make us the perfect home for a Channel 4 regional hub. Locating here would have a transformative impact on our city and I know that if we all come together we can win at the final stage.”

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth said: “This is brilliant news and an incredible achievement for everyone who has been involved with the campaign.

“Stoke-on-Trent is a city of talent and creativity, and I’m delighted that Channel 4 recognises that potential.

“Becoming the new home of Channel 4 would be a huge boost to our local economy, and today we are one step closer to making this a reality. Now we need to seal the deal and make sure this vision of a modern, creative city becomes a reality.”

Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Gareth Snell said: “This is brilliant news for our city, our region and the talented and innovative people who live here. Clearly Channel 4 has recognised the incredible opportunity that Stoke-on-Trent offers to them as a base for one of their new media hubs. To be shortlisted is fantastic, but now all our fingers are crossed that we can go all the way!”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “Being shortlisted as a Channel 4 creative hub is a vote of confidence in Stoke-on-Trent and the wider Staffordshire area.

“Stoke-on-Trent is a creative and innovative city with a superb art and design heritage, vibrant culture and high ambitions for the future. This announcement will attract national and international interest and is a wonderful opportunity to get the message across that this is a great area in which to live, work and invest.”

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sara Williams said: “Channel 4 coming to Stoke-on-Trent would be wonderful. It would raise aspirations in young people, put us at the centre of a new creative network (where we should be) and support the brilliant nascent sector we have in digital and creative media businesses. Our location, creativity, history and fabulous people should give Channel 4 the confidence to be brave and come to Stoke-on-Trent. They could make such a difference to all our lives by making us the beating heart of a new and exciting way of creating and delivering content for current and future media platforms that will impact on every single household.”

IC5 - Trevor McMillan and Cllr Mark Winnington - 1

Keele IC5 Completed

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Professor Trevor McMillan, Keele Universityas Vice-Chancellor (left) with Staffordshire County Councilas cabinet member for economic growth Mark Winnington.

Building work on a AL7million centre for business innovation in Staffordshire has been completed a with the first companies already set to move in.

The joint project between Keele University and Staffordshire County Council is the latest facility designed to support the development of local businesses and the creation of high value jobs in the area.

Innovation Centre 5, located on Keele University Science and Innovation Park, was officially handed over from construction partner Seddon earlier this month. It is the latest result of a long and successful partnership between the county council and the University, which sees the building funded and owned by the former and managed and maintained by the latter.A It could accommodate around 300 jobs when fully occupied.

The building is the fifth Innovation Centre on the Park and provides 30,000 sq ft of additional office and workshop accommodation for innovative, knowledge-intensive businesses. It is also the first to be built on the Science and Innovation Parkas new development site a an extension which has created 13 plots of land available for businesses and other partners to develop their own bespoke buildings.

Mark Winnington, cabinet member for economic growth at Staffordshire County Council, said: aThis is another great economic success for us a the delivery of a business innovation centre on time and on budget with companies already lined up to move in.

aWe are committed to supporting the creation of more high value jobs to Staffordshire through close working with a range of organisations. Weare building our partnership with Keele a one of the UKas leading educational and research establishments a to further strengthen our economy. We look forward to seeing a thriving centre as part of the renowned Science and Innovation Park.a

Professor Trevor McMillan, Keele Universityas Vice-Chancellor, added: aThe completion of Innovation Centre 5 is a significant milestone for us and for the local business economy.A Each of our existing properties has been in great demand since they opened, so it is fantastic that we are now able to accommodate and support more businesses here at Keele.

aWe are the only Science and Innovation Park in Staffordshire and one of only a handful in the country that is fully integrated within a university campus.A This ensures that businesses here are not only benefiting from modern facilities that they can be proud of, but they also have unrivalled access to the Universityas world-leading research, experienced and respected academics and officially the UKas most employable graduates, right on their doorstep.

aThis proximity to knowledge and expertise presents numerous opportunities for businesses to collaborate with the University in ways that will make their product development more efficient and effective, enable faster growth into new markets and ultimately create skilled jobs in the area.a

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman, David Frost CBE, said:A aIC5 is a great illustration of how we are working together in our region to create highly skilled job opportunities and assist cutting-edge businesses to grow and thrive.

aIt is clear that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is becoming an increasingly popular area for businesses to locate and innovative developments such as IC5 have an important role to play in this.

aOur range of successful developments, like IC5, show how partnership working across the public and private sectors and our universities is paying dividends for our economy.a

City set to become international energy hotspot

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International energy gurus have chosen Stoke-on-Trent to act as the UK’s hotspot for energy saving district heating expertise linking into a worldwide network of cities at the forefront of the battle to deliver affordable and clean energy.

Pan European energy expert Heatnet has selected Stoke-on-Trent to represent the UK in its international network, in recognition of the city’s remarkable position at the centre of the nation’s energy revolution.

The launch of ‘Hotspot Stoke-on-Trent’ on Thursday 12 May, at the city council’s new Smithfield building, is attracting experts from across the world, with leaders in the field coming over from Scandinavia. The city’s deep geothermal district heating network is the flagship project in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Powerhouse Central City Deal previously agreed with the government, which also includes a smart energy demonstrator project at Keele University and a low-carbon taskforce, in partnership with the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. The aim is to establish Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire as an international leader and innovator in sustainable energy. The Swedish Energy Agency is supporting the event, which is placing the city firmly at the centre of a growing UK energy industry.

Heatnet Chief Executive Peter Anderberg said that the city was the natural choice for the UK. “Stoke-on-Trent was where the industrial revolution started. King coal powered up an international commercial juggernaut. But King Coal is dead. Now the city is rising from the ashes of the past to lead a new industrial age. That’s why we chose Stoke-on-Trent.

“The city has already been granted AL20 million by Government to drive forward ambitious plans to create the UK’s largest deep geothermal district heating system, providing heat for industry and homes in the city centre.

“And the district heating system is just one way in which the city is leading the way. It has real ambition and drive to deliver an energy revolution, a model for others to follow, supporting jobs, sustainable prosperity and stability, while reducing climate changing carbon emissions,” he said.

Scandinavian cities lead the field in exploiting waste heat from industry to deliver cheap, dependable and clean energy for business and citizens, with over half of all power provided via district heating networks. Heat is channelled via a network of pipes around apartment blocks, houses and factories.

Ann-Sofi Gaverstedt of the Swedish Energy Agency said she was keen to work closely with the UK’s leading district heating technology developers.

“We are keen to share our knowledge and expertise but we are also keen to learn. Stoke-on-Trent will develop the very latest technologies and business practises and become a model for others in the years to come,” she said.

Stoke-on-Trent is already co-operating with the city of Helsingborg which has over 50 years experience in the field, ensuring the city maximises the benefits and minimises any potential problems.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Deputy Leader Abi Brown, who is opening the event, said she was delighted that the city was once again a beacon of creativity and energy. “This is great news for the city, with an international focus on capturing a huge untapped market in the UK emanating from Stoke-on-Trent. We are already working with our universities and the business community to make sure we have the research and development, training and skills, to take advantage of this huge opportunity.

“Stoke-on-Trent is resurgent once again. We have rediscovered our sense of purpose and energy, but powered by a new positive focus on the future. Our traditional creativity is now married to a research driven focus on new materials and technology. The city is becoming a place where people look for inspiration. Hotspot Stoke will cement into place our position at the forefront of innovation,” she said. LEP chairman David Frost CBE commented: “The launch of Hotspot Stoke-on-Trent and such strong international interest in our plans is excellent news for our region.

“We are increasingly being perceived internationally as an area that is powering ahead in technological innovation, and these new developments have great potential to create more highly skilled jobs, benefitting local communities. We have a great opportunity to position Stoke-on-Trent as a leader in this emerging energy sector.”

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Palletforce invests AL20m in Staffordshire hub

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Palletforce, the UK’s leading palletised distribution network, has announced further investment in its business with plans to open a new “SuperHub” at its Staffordshire headquarters.

When complete, the 620,000 sq ft development will be the biggest of its kind in Europe, capable of processing in excess of 30,000 pallets per night for distribution across the UK and the continent.

Currently Palletforce runs its award-winning 24-hour logistics operation from a 380,000 sq ft distribution centre at Burton upon Trent, which was built in 2009.

A second 240,000 sq ft facility will be built on an adjacent 38-acre site, and is expected to go online in early 2017, taking the company’s total investment in its national distribution hub to AL50 million. The move sees the first major project from new owners EmergeVest as part of their pledge to invest in the future growth and success of the Palletforce network.

The announcement was made at the inaugural General Meeting of Palletforce’s 88 member companies, held at the Hilton St George’s Park in Burton last week.

Chief executive officer Michael Conroy told members the SuperHub would ensure capacity for the next 10-15 years, and was a cornerstone of the company’s growth strategy.

“Palletforce is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2016 and we have come a long way in a very short space of time,” he said. “The SuperHub is testament to our long-term investment in the business.

“The Palletforce brand is already synonymous with quality; we will continue to invest further in both our members and our network to make Palletforce a super-brand.”

Palletforce has experienced significant growth across the UK and Europe and in 2015 was crowned “Logistics Supplier of the Year” at the prestigious Grocer Gold Awards.

Last week’s General Meeting was the first since the company’s shareholding was taken over by global investment firm EmergeVest in a AL30m acquisition last year.

EmergeVest has a particular interest in the supply chain, logistics and transportation sectors, especially in the UK and Asia. It owns UK-based chilled food distributors NFT Distribution, and has interests in global freight forwarder Allport Cargo Services.

Chairman Heath Zarin told Palletforce members that he regards the UK logistics sector as one of the most sophisticated in the world.

“Palletforce is the leading business in the express pallet sector,” he said. “And it has the potential for so much more opportunity to grow in the UK, Europe and Asia.”

Palletforce’s new Superhub will be the biggest of its kind in Europe.


JLR To Double The Size Of South Staffordshire Engine Manufacturing Centre

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Jaguar Land Rover today announced that it is to double the size of its Engine Manufacturing Centre (EMC) as part of a AL450m expansion programme. This latest news from the UK’s leading manufacturing investor is a clear signal of the company’s long-term commitment to Britain. Total investment in the site, which opened a year ago, now stands at AL1bn making it the most significant new automotive manufacturing facility to be built in the UK in the last decade.

The EMC is home to the high technology, low emission Ingenium engine – Jaguar Land Rover’s first venture into in-house engine manufacturing in a generation. In just twelve months, the Midland based facility has moved from prototype production to full-scale manufacture with more than 50,000 engines coming off the production line.

The Ingenium engine launched initially in the Jaguar XE in April 2015 and was followed quickly by the Discovery Sport, two of the most significant product launches from the British manufacturer accounting for sales of 65,800 in the year so far. Today the EMC has cemented its position as the heart of Jaguar Land Rover’s UK manufacturing operations supplying all three vehicle plants with engines which also power the Range Rover Evoque, all-new Jaguar XF and soon to be launched ground breaking Jaguar F-PACE.

This latest phase in the development of the EMC will see the site increase its operational footprint to 200,000 square metres, supporting capacity uplift as the company continues on its product offensive to deliver more exciting new products to customers.

Jaguar Land Rover CEO, Dr. Ralf Speth said: “We are proud to be such a significant investor in advanced manufacturing in Britain and are excited by this expansion and the new jobs it will create.

“The Engine Manufacturing Centre is a strategically significant facility for Jaguar Land Rover. The decision to expand our operations at the site provides a clear signal of our commitment to meeting customer demand for cleaner and more efficient engines, whilst developing the skills and capability that Britain needs if it is to remain globally competitive.”

Today’s announcement will lead to the creation of several hundred new jobs at the Centre in a move which will see Jaguar Land Rover’s global workforce hit 40,000 by next year. In the twelve months since its opening the EMC has seen its workforce reach 700 with further recruitment ongoing. The first eight recruits to be employed for the project in 2011 were apprentices who this month graduated from Jaguar Land Rover’s industry-leading programme and take on exciting roles within the EMC and wider powertrain organisation.

Lauren Quinn, one of the EMC’s first apprentices said: “My time as an apprentice at the Engine Manufacturing Centre far exceeded my expectations; it’s given me a future I could have only dreamed of 5 years ago.

“When I started in 2011 I was one of only eight official employees dedicated to the project and the plant was no more than a muddy field. We have come such a long way in a short space of time and I’m proud to have been part of this world-class team and the creation of a facility which will create a legacy for many years to come.”

The Engine Manufacturing Centre is one of Jaguar Land Rover’s four UK based manufacturing facilities*. Together with its R&D centers in Coventry and Gaydon, Jaguar Land Rover has invested AL11bn in product creation and facilities, creating more than 20,000 new jobs in the last five years.


Speculative Industrial Development at Burton Gateway

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AA major new speculative industrial warehouse is being developed by St. Modwen in Burton-on-Trent. BG87A is a 87,000 sq ft warehouse which is due to be built by the end of the year.

BG 87 will be the first speculatively-built unit at St. Modwenas new Burton Gateway Industrial Park, where it has outline planning permission for up to 1 million sq ft of industrial units. This makes it one of largest industrial and warehouse developments in the Midlands, which is set to create up to 1,500 jobs.

Ian Romano, senior development surveyor at St. Modwen, said: aWe took the decision to deliver this speculative unit in response to the increasing demand for warehouse space in the buoyant Midlands market.

aIt reflects our belief and confidence in Burton Gateway as a high quality product we are bringing to the market.a

Woolcool Open New Factory in Stone

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AN eco-friendly, wool-based packaging system will create new jobs in Staffordshire.

Woolcool will officially open its new factory in Stone on Friday (July 3). Around 25 jobs have been created with a further 25 planned by the end of the year.

Using 100 per cent pure, clean wool that is too coarse for clothing or other textiles, the company manufactures insulated packaging for the food and pharmaceutical industries keeping medicines and food cool for longer.A This means temperature sensitive medicines can be kept at the optimum 2-8AC during transportation across the globe, solving a crucial problem which has led to around 50% of vaccines being unusable on arrival at their destination.

“Woolcool is making pharmaceutical companies rethink their packaging and this will save lives,” said managing director, Keith Spilsbury.

“We want to bring this invention to Staffordshire and grow it in theA county. Myself and founder Angela Morris have strong roots in Staffordshire soA this is the ideal location for us.

“We have worked with Jobs Enterprise and Training (JET) to provide employment opportunities to those who are lookingA to get into work and we are delighted with those who have joined us so far.

“Originally we hoped to create eight new jobs. Now we have 25, and with theA anticipated increase in work at Christmas time and the growth of theA pharmaceutical side of the business, we expect that to become 50 jobs.”


100 New Jobs at Portmeirion

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Portmeirion is investing £1.5 million in its ceramics manufacturing plant at Stoke as it prepares for a major expansion. The company has taken delivery of a new kiln which is expected to create 100 jobs and will increase capacity by another 50 per cent to around 255,000 items.

Managing director Brett Phillips said: “We have seen an increased demand for UK-made products.

“The fact that a product is made here has become more important to customers.

“Part of it is fashion and the reputation of quality.

“The fact is it UK-made product means it is registered as a premium prestige product.

“The new kiln will increase our capacity by 50 per cent and will hopefully mean more jobs. We are expecting it to be ready at the end of September but it won’t be turned on immediately as that will be subject to demand.

“We recruited an extra 80 workers last year and we are hoping to recruit another 100 over the next three years.

“It is exciting times for us as we expand locally in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The kiln, made by Burslem-based Therser (UK) Ltd, will be 28 metres long and 2.5 metres high once assembled.




New Speculative Development at Redhill

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Redhill Business Park

A speculative 113,500 sq ft industrial and logistics unit will be built at plots four and six of Redhill Business Park near junction 14 of the M6 in Stafford, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area when complete. Trebor Developments and Rockspring’s Hanover Property Unit Trust have partnered to develop the scheme in Staffordshire.

The park’s development is led by Staffordshire County Council, which has backed the project with AL10.7m in funding.

Work on the new units is expected to begin this year for completion in summer 2016.

Bob Tattrie, managing partner at Trebor, said: “The market for new quality industrial premises is very active and Redhill Business Park is ideally located to meet the needs of occupiers, given the quick deliverability and infrastructure connections – enquiries are already being received for the accommodation.”

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