Hong Kong investors secure permission for £58m car dealership
The world’s largest Mercedes-Benz retailer has been granted planning permission to redevelop the former home of logistics group Prologis in Solihull into a new multi-million pound car showroom, housing its UK headquarters.
Prologis vacated Prologis House, on the corner of the A34 Stratford Road and Monkspath Hall Road, when it agreed to relocate to a new headquarters on Blythe Valley Park.
The 2.5-acre site, which is on the fringe of the Monkspath Business Park and adjoined by a David Lloyd Fitness Centre, has been acquired by LSH Auto Properties, owned by Hong Kong-based Lei Shing Hong Group.
It is the second major scheme in the area to be initiated by the group in the past few months. In August, it submitted plans to Birmingham City Council for a new £15m used Mercedes showroom in Erdington.
The plans backed by Solihull Borough Council will see the development of a four-storey complex supporting almost 140 jobs.
Such is the scale of the operation that it is expected to yield £58.1m gross added value to the economy of Solihull over 10 years.
In addition to a significant investment in the borough, the council said the outstanding design of the scheme would provide a high quality landmark building at a key gateway to the town.
The council said: “Securing investment and jobs are essential to achieving the aims of the Council Plan, and are at the heart of our ambitions for UK Central.”
The new building will comprise four levels, with a central core feature topped by a revolving Mercedes star at 88 ft. The curved showroom frontage will face out on to the roundabout at the A34 Stratford Road.
The prominent site was identified by the group as the ideal location to replace its current operation in the town.
It had initially looked at refurbishing Prologis House, a two/three storey office building constructed in the 1980s. However, such is the scale of the new operation that this proved not to be viable and the new scheme, designed by Fletcher Smith Architects, takes account of LSH’s specific requirements.
The Mercedes Benz franchise currently operates two facilities in Solihull. The sales operation is in a showroom on the A41 Warwick Road, with servicing and after-sales carried out at a facility in Ashbourne Way.
Due to significant capacity constraints, a support unit on Highfields Road, Shirley has been acquired for off-site parking and some elements of the used car business have been transferred to the operation in Erdington. New cars are provided directly from call-out storage near Grimsby.
A design brief submitted with the application for the new facility said: “The existing sales and servicing operations are inefficient and inadequate to satisfy the brand going forward. A combined facility is needed to maintain a Mercedes Benz presence in Solihull.
Following a review of its operation in the area, LSH decided it needed a 30-car showroom and a workshop of 20 bays plus two MOT bays. A normal operation of this kind would require a 20-car showroom but such is the affluence of Solihull with its high concentration of potential ABC 1 customers that the enlarged facility is deemed desirable.
The site will also feature 223 parking spaces, nearly half of which will be for staff. Most staff parking will be on the fourth level of the building.
Early studies suggested that the enlarged facility was deemed to need a site of around 3.14 acres, however, due to the actual size of the plot, the multi-level facility was deemed the only practical solution.
“The acquisition of this Mercedes Benz retail territory by LSH provides an added dimension,” stated the design brief. “Their aspiration, based on their Asian experience, seeks to provide an enhanced customer experience.”