PLANS to turn a former top secret underground military complex into a wine storage facility have been refused by the council.

London City Bond (LCB) sought to develop the historic Drakelow Tunnels beneath Kingsford Country Park into a warehouse and distribution centre for 10,000 tonnes of wine - creating 40 full-time jobs in the area.

But, following a planning meeting on Tuesday, September 17, Wyre Forest District Council refused the proposal after highlighting concerns about the daily movements of heavy goods vehicles, plans to reduce car parking on the site from 45 to 22 spaces, and the displacement of traffic onto surrounding roads.

The tunnel network was built in the early 1940s as a shadow factory for the Rover car company, later forming part of a national network of highly classified nuclear bunkers.

At the planning meeting, applicant agent Peter Brady said the scheme "provides the only available opportunity to bring the tunnels, built as a commercial facility, back into economic use."

The proposal also highlighted a travel plan to introduce a minibus service and car sharing incentives for staff.

He added: “The unfortunate fact is that if this scheme does not proceed, those 40 full-time permanent jobs will not go elsewhere in the town, they will go elsewhere in the country and they will be lost to Wyre Forest forever.”

Previously, council planners recommended the proposal for delegated approval, despite objections from the local parish council, highway authority and 39 residents.

Councillor Marcus Hart said he had "significant concerns" about the proposal.

"This is not an employment site, this is in the heart of the green belt," he said.

Councillor Fran Oborski said: "I just don't think that the justification for the development stacks up."

In recent years, the tunnels have welcomed members of the public for regular open days and tours.

A spokesperson for The Drakelow Renovation Volunteers, who hold history tours at the site, said: "Drakelow is, as it has always been, business as usual.

"We are still renovating the cold war bunker and history tours will continue."

Following the decision, Peter Brady said LCB are “extremely disappointed” and are “waiting to see the formal notice of refusal” before considering an appeal”.