In Cannock Chase 5 areas were identified as potential BIZ projects. The first three, Orbital Retail Park, Cannock Wood and A5 Cannock, all border or are located in the town of Cannock (pop 29,018) and most of the employees are Cannock residents. Power Station Road to the North East of Cannock borders the town of Rugeley (pop 22,724) Finally Fradley Business Park to the South East of Cannock is located near the City of Litchfield (pop 32,219).
The MoMa.BIZ project proved very challenging to deliver in the Cannock area and despite high levels of resources being directed at its implementation, the project partner failed to achieve all of the results that it should have. The strategy of trying to develop 5 BIZ areas at the same time was over ambitious and as a consequence diluted the level of time and resource that was focused on each BIZ area and ultimately failed to generate the long term relations or the critical mass of businesses on each site necessary to form an effective BIZ. A single focus with an on-going presence and higher project profile would have had more impact. That with-standing a number of lessons have been learned and articulated in the report and a number of stakeholders and initiatives identified who want to build on and continue the work of the MoMa.BIZ project.
Video Audit of Cannock Chase
As part of the project working links were established with Staffordshire County Councils, mobility team who offer a wide range of information, training and consultancy services to businesses in the area. They have agreed to support the local business base in establishing mobility plans and implementing mobility measures.
At the final conference Centro, the regional travel operator announced a £35M project to support local businesses to implement sustainable travel strategies. It was agreed to deliver a joint press launch with the Birmingham Chamber Group featuring both the MoMa.BIZ and Centro projects and for Centro to move forward in supporting local companies within the MoMa.BIZ project to progress their mobility aspirations after the conclusion of the project.
As a result of the dissemination conference Coventry University has also made links with the Chamber. The university is delivering an ERDF funded project: Smarter working West Midlands and aims to promote:
- Mobility planning, car sharing, public transport, staggered hours to avoid rush hour etc.
- Home working
- Improvements in premises leading to reduction of energy consumption. Examples include “switch off”, insulation, smart metering, waste reduction/reuse etc.
And again the Chamber has agreed to promote this as a programme to continue and build on the work of MoMa.BIZ.
A further resource tool identified is the web based Network West Midlands http://www.networkwestmidlands.com/ which in addition to providing Bus, Train and Tram timetables has a journey planner tool which produces a travel plan for commuters. It is free to use and can easily be communicated to employees as part of a wider mobility strategy.
Below is detailed a snap shot of the five BIZ areas.
Orbital Retail Park
The project initially engaged with 15 businesses on the retail park who expressed interest in the project and would want to develop the ideas. Their work force is drawn from the immediate locality particularly Cannock. The road infrastructure is well developed. It does however require care in crossing the busy road and there are few pedestrian crossings. There are also reasonable train (15 minute walk) and local bus routes
Although initial interest was high with 15 businesses representing 1174 employees this failed to translate into a full BIZ team and Briggs was the only organisation to undertake the mobility study and make use of the project. A total of 150 surveys were completed.
The key issue for Briggs was the lack of on-site car parking. They had with the support of the Stafford Mobility Officer introduced a number of mobility measures and were benefiting from these but the demands on parking space were still increasing due to the continued expansion of the company.
The solution that they were looking for the project to support was to rent part of the neighbouring B&Q retail outlet parking and build a pathway to connect this to the Briggs premises. Although this would address the car parking for Briggs further work would be required to continue to change the travel behavior of their employees.
Cannock Wood Business Park was the most remote of the 5 BIZ areas selected and there are poor public transport options available to employees. The nearest bus stops are at least a mile away and there is a single road which allows access to the site.
There are 6 businesses on the site. The project engaged with one business on the park, ATP (120 employees) who indicated that as many of their employees were local they did in fact cycle to work in the summer. As the road is relatively flat and only used by the occupants of the BIZ it is a relatively safe route to cycle. Interestingly ATP along with another tenant have purchased a snow plough to ensure that in winter the road can be kept clear to enable access to the business park for all of the employees. There is the potential to continue to work with ATP upon completion of the project.
The A5 is a major arterial road cutting through Cannock and is home to a wide number of businesses. It is well served with buses but is a busy road and is perceived as risky by cyclists.
Initially 12 companies were identified who had expressed interest in the project representing 2354 staff.
The major engagement was with ThyssenKrupp and initial work was promising. However with the change of project manager it proved difficult to re-engage with the company.
Power Station Road
Power Station Road consists of a number of self-contained businesses all within the Business Park. The local train and bus routes are a 15 minute walk away and there are good road, payments and cycle paths connecting all of the local businesses on the park. 7 businesses with a workforce of 2218 employees initially engaged in the project
Parking is becoming a serious issue as most of the companies are at capacity on their existing parking resources and on street parking is becoming increasingly common. Ultra was the only organisation to engage fully with the project. However the personnel director has left the business and new relations need to be developed.
As a defense specialist organisation all staff are highly skilled and experienced and a number travel large distances to work (37% take over an hour to get to work). Due to the location there are a number of keen cyclists but the majority of the workforce view the car as essential due to the distances travelled. There is the potential to continue to work with Ultra upon completion of the project. From a workforce of 300 employees Ultra completed a total of 90 surveys.
The Park is situated on the outskirts of Litchfield and has a good road infrastructure and close access to the motorway network. Within the park there are good road and pedestrian networks between each business location. All are self-contained and secured individually. The nearest train station is a 25 minute walk away and there is a local bus service but this is infrequent.
The project engaged with five of the local business base representing a workforce of 1240, Florette expressed a more detailed interest in working with the project. Interestingly they felt there was no need to undertake the company survey as they understood the needs of their workforce. Typically they all live locally and the majority use the bus. The reason for this is that Florette have very limited car space and there is a covenant that they cannot increase this. They therefore organise a free company bus service which takes the majority of their workforce directly to or from their home or to local “free” car parking locations. They viewed the programme as an opportunity for it to review how to finance their bus service, liaise with other local businesses to share costs or influence the bus operators to develop new routes. There is the potential for further work.