Stoford Developments is set to begin work on a multi-million pound ambulance service hub for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) after Sandwell planners approved the scheme.
The 76,000 sq ft hub, will be the largest hub of its kind in the country and will see a significant increase in ambulance operational capability for Birmingham and the Black Country. The project, which will open in time for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022, will be used as a staging point for the Trust’s preparations for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Once fully open it will house around 350 operational ambulance staff working shifts and replaces a much smaller facility in West Bromwich. In addition, it will include a facility for the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), as well as fleet maintenance and vehicle preparation areas, the Trust’s Education and Training Academy and central stores.
Built on derelict land off Shidas Road, Oldbury, it will achieve the BREEAM Excellence rating, which rates a building’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance.
Birmingham-based Stoford Developments was appointed by WMAS to deliver the scheme following a competitive tender, with the developer putting forward proposals to build on former quarry and which had been earmarked originally for industrial units.
Trust Chief Executive Anthony Marsh said: “This is a hugely important development for not only West Midlands Ambulance Service, but also for the people of Birmingham and the Black Country. It is a significant investment that has taken over two years of work to bring together. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Stoford Developments to bring this new facility online in time for the Commonwealth Games, an event that will let the world see all that is good about our country’s second city.”
Tony Nash, Director at Stoford Developments, said now the planning committee had formally given it the go ahead, he hoped work could start on site this month (April), with an estimated completion date of spring 2022.
“WMAS was looking for a strategic location in the Sandwell or Oldbury area, close to the M5, for its new facility and the land we proposed was ideally situated for its needs,” he said.
“The site has many technical challenges having remained undeveloped for 15yrs and grant funding from West Midlands Combined Authority has made the project viable.
“We’re looking forward to getting started in this national infrastructure project and delivering a facility that achieves BREEAM Excellent in design and construction.”
WMAS Director of Strategic Operations Craig Cooke added: “At seven acres, this is a significant investment that will bring real benefit to the area. The new Hub will enable us to improve the level of care we provide to the local population. It is also good news for our staff as it will allow us to not only increase numbers, but also provide them with an excellent facility which is purpose built for their needs.
“This project also has national merit as it allows us to provide a much better base for our Hazardous Area Response Team who provide care in a wide range of specialist areas such as water rescue, hazardous substances and collapsed buildings amongst many others.
“I’m also delighted that we are investing in our Education & Training team. We currently have over 700 students working with us and providing them with even better facilities will only help to ensure that we maintain our position as being the only ambulance service with a paramedic on every vehicle.
“Over the last year our central stores team has performed magnificently ensuring frontline staff have the necessary protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new facility will continue our record of making it one of the most efficient systems in the country which will ensure our staff always have the right equipment when they need it so that they can provide excellent care to patients.”
This challenging site has been made possible with the financial support of the West Midlands Combined Authority, bringing jobs and major investment on what was a waste site in the heart of Oldbury.
WMAS serves a population of 5.6 million people and covers an area of more than 5,000 square miles, comprising Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands.
Stoford Developments has appointed McLean Construction to build the hub, which will also accommodate 365 parking spaces, including ten disabled spaces and 70 ambulance spaces.