From Agriculture to Sports Cars

Apex Wells_Vertige_Luc_Lacey_2021

Planning is about so much more than buildings. This latest project will see a fantastic new sports car roll off the assembly line. Learn how our driving force got the plans through…

New Endeavour

When we were approached by a new company that planned to assemble a new sports car from within former agricultural buildings, we couldn’t wait to get on the starting grid. Now the chequered flag has been lowered and Wells Motor Cars Ltd will soon be busy producing these amazing cars – and we can’t wait to be at the launch! This is how we got to this point…

We have been working with Robin Wells of Wells Motors Cars (WMC) since early 2020.

The plan was to gain permission to use former agricultural buildings on land near Bishop’s Itchington in Warwickshire as an assembly location for its sports cars. We were introduced to company founder Robin Wells through a mutual acquaintance and had already provided planning advice on some land he owned personally.

Wells Motor Cars

WMC is a new car company already based near to the Bishops Itchington site – but it needed premises for the assembly of its cars. WMC is committed to reinvigorating Britain’s motor manufacturing heritage and recently unveiled the Wells Vertige, a new British-built, 2.0-litre mid-engine sports coupe and the brainchild of Robin Wells, founder of WMC. The car was showcased at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and has since progressed to limited production.

The first exclusive batch of just seven cars is already sold and should be ready by spring 2022, with plans to eventually increase production to 25 cars per year. These exclusive sports cars have an on-the-road price of £45,000-£50,000. The need for the dedicated assembly and storage use, creating a bespoke production and development facility, has been emphasised by the already fantastic response to the Wells Vertige.

Prior Approval Application Process

We initially reviewed the planning issues related to the proposed use of the site, considering the options for submitting a planning application or a Prior Approval application. Working closely with WMC it became clear that the use of the building could be promoted under Class R and through the Prior Approval application process, allowing light industrial and storage use of the buildings. Using this advice, WMC purchased the land.

We also provided a strategy for preparing a Prior Approval application. We were then retained by WMC to source other specialist services and so we prepared briefs for these, and duly obtained quotations from Create Consulting Engineers in respect of Transport, Drainage, Flooding, Structural, Contamination, and Geological services.

Once the application was submitted, we worked very closely with the planning officer, partly because WMC’s timeline meant the application needed to be approved first time around. With this in mind, the consultation responses were closely monitored so that, dependent on the response, we could provide an immediate response.

Approval Granted

While most of the relevant criteria were deemed to be satisfied by the application, the Council’s highway officer raised some concerns and a requirement for more information. We were able to work closely with Create Consulting Engineers to finalise this detail before it was submitted to the Council. Happily, the updated transport data was well-received and quickly agreed by the highway officer, paving the way for the Prior Approval application to be greenlighted under delegated powers.

Now work onsite is proceeding apace and we are looking forward to seeing the first of the Wells Vertige cars completed soon.

WMC Founder Robin Wells said: “I’m delighted with how everything turned out and it has been immensely helpful to have Apex ‘on our side’ – they have been professional, efficient and a pleasure to work with. I also feel that I’ve learnt a lot through our various discussions – and that has been most welcome.’’

Working on this application process has been a joy for Apex Planning Consultants; working with a client that was actively involved and supportive with critical information, yet respectful of the professional advice from Apex Planning Consultants and Create Consulting Engineers. It has also been a pleasure to work with the officers of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, who were receptive to new information and accepted points of law to ensure the application process continued in a positive manner.

Paul Smith, Director of Apex Planning Consultants, was asked if he planned to buy one of the cars for himself. “I would love to,’’ he replied. “but at 6ft 4in tall I may find driving it a little awkward!” So, for the time being Paul will be sticking with his current car!

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