A gigantic rail freight transport hub, which will create up to 8,500 new jobs in the West Midlands, is to be built by the Duke of Westminster's property group.

Gerald Grosvenor, who is chairman of Grosvenor Group, is funding the development of the new logistics hub which aims to tap into the region's manufacturing success and transport system.

The plans for the freight interchange have been revealed by a consortium called Four Ashes for the first time today and will cover around 615 acres of land west of junction 12 of the M6.

The development team is hoping the project - called 'West Midlands Interchange' - will attract major occupiers from sectors such as logistics and retail which are seeking strategic locations from which to base major operations.

It is hoped congestion will be eased on the West Midlands' busy motorway network by linking directly to the West Coast Main Line.

The land, near Featherstone in South Staffordshire, covers the equivalent of around 360 football pitches, and will benefit from its proximity to the West Midlands' motorway network, Jaguar Land Rover and i54, A449 and Four Ashes train station.

Although the project will tap into the region's infrastructure and transport network, it is being privately funded and built on privately owned land.

The Four Ashes consortium is led by Surrey-based Kilbride, which specialises in rail infrastructure to serve business and industry, with funding from Grosvenor and Kilbride, while the majority of the land belongs to Piers Monckton, whose family owns the nearby stately home Stretton Hall.

The hub will tap into region's motorway network and could ease congestion
The hub will tap into region's motorway network and could ease congestion

Kilbride has previously worked with Jaguar Land Rover on developing its rail transportation capabilities at its plants in Castle Bromwich and Merseyside.

Peter Frost, a director of Kilbride and managing director of Four Ashes, said the project had the potential to deliver between six and eight million square feet of industrial property and between 6,500 and 8,500 new jobs.

"There are many reasons for choosing this site and a lot of research has been conducted on land uses," he said.

"We're seeing a driving demand for the largest sheds to suit companies such as retailers and logistics groups.

"There is very little land available for this scale of requirement and this particular site has that capacity as well as the access to the rail infrastructure and the motorway network.

"A strategic rail freight interchange is something that has been long identified as essential for the future prosperity of the West Midlands region."

The project is in its fledgling stages and an 18-month public consultation will now start with the local community and business and civic leaders as developers draw up a masterplan for the land.

Although Four Ashes will work closely with South Staffordshire Council on developing and submitting the planning application, the final decision will lie with the Government.

The project is expected to take around a decade to complete in its entirety once construction starts.