Shropshire Council planners have given permission for Western Power Distribution (WPD) to move its depot to a new site between the Eco Park and Western Power Distribution’s substation on Squirrel Lane. Vehicle access will be from the Eco Park spine road.
The company has operated from an unsuitable location in The Riddings, Sandpits for decades. Its 1960s depot is set behind a new row of social housing recently built on the site of the former tax office. WPD maintenance trucks must travel along St Margaret Road and Parys Road to leave the depot. Worse, they often travel past Ludlow Infants School when children are arriving or leaving.
Now the company is to move out of town. This is a good move.
One of the other reasons for moving is to accommodate the current level of WPD staff. The 88 strong WPD workforce staff has seventeen office staff, 57 staff working in the field on network maintenance and fourteen technical engineers that work both in the field and in the office. WPD is training four apprentices.
The new facility will have two two-storey buildings housing a distribution centre and office accommodation, including conference rooms and archive stores, along with staff facilities. The design is utilitarian.
The site will be landscaped with small trees and shrubs. WPD refused to plant taller trees as these could block CCTV and could provide a means of access to the site when grown. To reduce the visual impact to the proposed housing scheme to the south, which is 50 metres away, the depot will be sunken by two metres, giving an apparent height of eight metres. But there will be security lighting. Details are not yet agreed but this must not add to light pollution in the area.
An overhead power line used to cross this site. That was undergrounded earlier this year and this suggests WPD is keen to get on with building this depot.
Access will be through the Eco Park, though this was initially resisted by Shropshire Council’s economic development team. It regarded the extra traffic as inappropriate for a business park. The depot will accommodate more than 100 truck and car parking spaces. Twenty-five electric vehicle chargers will be installed “to enable the procurement of electric vehicles when suitable commercial models become available.” There is no mention of charging points for workers’ cars. The depot will receive one delivery of materials a week using a 40-ton articulated vehicle. There will be around 100 other vehicle movements Monday to Friday. This will substantially increase the traffic through the Eco Park. But as WPD starts at 9am and finishes at 4pm, except in emergencies, there should be no congestion issues. The scheme of 64 homes approved to the south of the WPD depot will be accessed directly from Sheet Road. The extra traffic will increase pressure for a solution to the unchecked speeding vehicles along Sheet Road and through Sheet Village.
It is expected that the current WPD depot in Sandpits will be sold for housing. Hopefully, the site will be redeveloped for affordable housing of the quality and style that has been built on the old tax office site that fronts the WPD depot.
WPD also owns a strip of land between the proposed new depot and the Eco Park pond by the NHS owned site. This is likely to be future employment land but it would be great if this was designated as a wildlife area with native trees. This would promote wildlife in an area very deficient in biodiversity.