New brick factory in Ibstock, Leicester

The Ibstock site

Bricks are an essential component of our built environment. Our villages, towns and cities are largely constructed from them. They are a popular, durable, sustainable and versatile construction material.

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In order to meet the increasing demand for the supply of bricks, Ibstock Brick propose to extend the manufacturing capability at the Ibstock site by building a new and additional brick factory. The new factory will be able to produce 100 million bricks per annum, coupled with the existing manufacturing on site; it will mean 190 million bricks per annum total output from the Ibstock site, or an amount equivalent to around 28,000 new homes per year.

The proposed new factory location comprises previously developed land. This was historically worked for clay and following the cessation of extraction, the land was utilised as an inert landfill by a building contractor and by Ibstock for the disposal of non best clays from the quarry. This area was previously referred to as ‘north quarry’ is now grazed by cattle.

The new location lies immediately to the north of the existing brickworks and office complex and will be completely within the Ibstock site area on part of the former north quarry. We propose to use landforms and woodland planting to assist in the screening of the site and make a positive contribution to the National Forest.

By building an additional factory in the existing site we will be able to utilise the established infrastructure, excellent links to the distribution network and minimise the transportation of clay by road through the utilisation of the significant clay reserves on our adjoining land. Clay is transported to the brick factory using private clay haulage roads before being stockpiled ready for use.

Ibstock factory bricks

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Community projects and relations

Ibstock are aware of its impact on the community, both in the immediate vicinity of its operations and over a wider area.

Positive action has therefore taken place to establish lines of communication. A long standing commitment has been made by the Leicester factory to work with local interested parties.

Members of the factory management have been represented at the established liaison meeting attended by local persons, regulators and council representatives. The meeting is held at Ibstock premises annually.

Ibstock were proud to be part of the inception of Ibstock Community Enterprise, originally a focus group which sought funding for local projects. Members of the Ibstock Team have been involved in the group activities over a number of years.

The Palace at Ibstock, once a cinema, was built in 1912. The Palace Arts Centre has been restored to its former glory thanks to over £200,000 funding, including £35,000 from Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust. Last open in 1991 as a bingo hall, the building had become run down and was in desperate need of refurbishment. The newly refurbished Centre hosts concerts and theatre productions, events and workshops for children, and has shown a range of films throughout the year.

The Palace is a focal point for the community and Ibstock representatives maintain contact with local stakeholders in close proximity to the site.

Ibstock representatives maintain contact with local stakeholders in close proximity to the site. The Ibstock site has links to local colleges to whom bricks are supplied for use in building courses. The factory also hosted visits from Local Universities and Local Scout groups, to learn about the manufacture of bricks and take a tour of the factory.

The factory maintains a commitment to sponsor a number of teams including Ibstock Football club, a local Bowls club and local band in addition to previous sponsorship for a junior Rugby kit.

We are proud that this close working relationship assists in understanding the concerns of those people closest to the site.

Protecting people and the environment

We are currently in the process of considering the proposed new Ibstock factory and the potential significance of any impact of the proposed development. The process of assessing this impact is called an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

We have now started some of the studies (Baseline Studies) and we would like to share these with the local community. We have planned the public information day so that you can let us know what you think. Your feedback will then help us to prepare our planning application.

Baseline conditions have been established by a combination of documentary research of existing reports, records and plans etc and empirical site assessment work.

To date, the following has been undertaken:

  • Ecology – documentary research plus a number of site surveys
  • Archaeology – documentary/archive research
  • Landscape – documentary review (designations/policy etc) and site work including 3D modeling
  • Land Use – examines the current and proposed uses of the land including the underground conditions of the land where the new factory and stockyards would be located
  • Noise – measurement of background noise levels and assessment of possible noise from the new proposed brick factory
  • Air Quality – documentary research and review plus background modeling in the local area of existing pollutant levels.
  • Water – data acquisition, documentary research and review of plans including development of storm water management systems
  • Transport – of bricks and materials to and from the site
  • Community and Social – We need to assess the likely impact on employment and demographics as part of the scheme.

Further information on the measures that Ibstock will be taking to protect local people and the environment will be available at the public information day on the 25th April 2015.

Some of your initial questions might be answered in the Frequently asked questions section of this website.

The new Ibstock factory

In summary, the Proposed Development is the construction of a new Brick factory to increase the brick manufacturing on the site from 90 million bricks per annum to a total of around 190 million bricks per annum. The Proposed Development will include additional production plant located in new buildings and the additional stockyard area.


More specifically, the Proposed Development includes:

  • construction of a new production building housing the brick manufacturing/processing plant, a packaging area and other ancillary plant (including flue stack and associated flue gas abatement equipment;
  • construction of a new clay preparation building housing the front-end components of the brick making process;
  • construction of additional stockyard area to store packaged bricks, processing/manufacturing components and to improve vehicle circulation;
  • a dedicated area for HGV parking and sheeting;
  • additional staff car parking and reorganisation of existing car parking arrangements associated with the offices and laboratory;
  • construction of a landscaped screening bund to the south west and to the north west ofthe new stockyard area; and
  • construction of a new surface water drainage system and a surface water attenuation feature to the south of the new buildings.

The plant and processes housed within the building will generally replicate those already being undertaken within the existing Brick factories albeit the new building will be more modern and on a larger scale.

The proposed clay preparation building will cover an area of approximately 3,500m² and will be located to the north of the existing offices. It is proposed that the building will be finished to match the existing brick factory buildings.

The height of the clay preparation building will be approximately 17.35m from ground level to the roof ridge.

A brick colourant and fuel additive is delivered to site and will be stored in storage bays located in the existing brick factory storage area or in one of the storage bays proposed as part of the clay preparation building in the new brick factory. Sands are also delivered to site and will be stored in in purpose built bays within the envelope of the clay preparation building. Stains are delivered bagged on pallets and will be inside the building at the appropriate areas.

Clay will be loaded into new box feeders in the clay stockpile area and transported to the clay preparation building via an overhead conveyor system. The clay enters the clay preparation building and is fed directly into a wet pan where primary crushing and water/clay conditioner will be added. The clay will then pass through a further stage in the crushing and reduction in size using opposing high and medium speed rollers before clay is deposited into either an internal storage area or directly fed into the factory.

The proposed production building will cover an area of approximately 17,500m² and will be located to the north west of the existing Brick factories. It is proposed that the building will be finished to match the existing brickworks buildings but with fibre cement sheets and a proportion of the cladding finish to include translucent panels to maximise natural light ingress.

The height of the production building itself will be approximately 17.00m from ground level to the roof ridge.  The flue gas cleaning ‘scrubber’ will stand around 21 metres and the kiln exhaust stack will be approximately 30 metres in height from ground level (but subject to detail design as part of the Environmental Permit issued by the District Council). Both the scrubber and chimney will be partially screened by the new factory building.

The clay will be transported from the clay preparation building to the production building via a short conveyor. Following a process of further mixing and the addition of more water, the clay will be pressed into boxes with the relevant sand and pigment stain which provides finish colour to the bricks. The clay press or ‘make’ area is a large automated machine which will press multiple bricks at once.

The bricks will be automatically de-moulded onto pallets and then transported to the dryers in an automated system where they will be dried to remove the excess moisture added during the make process. The dried bricks will then be removed from the dryer, de-palletised and set onto kiln cars by a setting machine. The kiln car will carry the bricks through a tunnel kiln in a firing process which removes the final moisture and bakes the bricks to the required temperature.

The fuel used by the kilns is natural gas, and the excess heat from the firing process will provide the majority of heat for the drying process.

Fired bricks will be removed from the other end of the tunnel kiln and packaged onto packs in a process commonly referred as ‘dehacking’. The packs will be strapped, wrapped with polythene and then transported to the stockyard in preparation for dispatch.

The proposed new stockyard area will be used for the storage of packaged bricks prior to transportation off-site by HGV. The new stockyard area will tie into the existing stockyard areas in the vicinity of the existing brick factories and will enable a reorganisation of the existing stockyard arrangements with improved access for vehicles and personnel. The majority of the stockyard is planned to be set at the same level as the existing stockyard. Bricks will be stored on the yard to the height of 6 packs high equating to around 6 metres total storage height from the stockyard.

Existing brick manufacture at the Ibstock site

Clay is extracted locally from Ibstock permitted clay reserves. Extraction is now in phase 2 of the quarry progressing in a northerly direction before turning to work generally easterly through phases 3 and 3a.

Clay extraction from the quarry ‘face’ takes place in the spring/summer months and through into autumn, however clay contractors are on site for much of the year preparing the quarry for extraction or completing quarry management work. Clay is transported to and stored in a stockpile adjacent to the brick factory and this process allows for initial selection and blending of clays. During this process some clays are stored separately as they are not suitable for brick manufacture (Non Usable Materials). These non usable materials are retained and will be used in the restoration of the quarry site.

The proposed new and additional brick factory does not require an extension of the permitted clay quarry, however additional land surrounds the existing quarry which, subject to planning permission, will ensure clay supply for generations to come.

As clay is needed for brick manufacture, it is removed from the stockpile and transported to the brick factory throughout the year using a box feeder and conveyor, which passes a shoprt distance before entering the factory buildings. Once clay enters the factory it is initially crushed and then tempered with water to achieve a softer consistency.

The clay can then be directed to both of the existing Ibstock factories; called Soft Mud 1 and Soft Mud 2. The name of the factory reflects the process of brick manufacture within them and the relative age of the respective factory.

‘Soft Mud’ is the name given to the process of pressing bricks into a solid brick shape. The numbers 1 & 2 refer to the two separate factories currently on site, with factory 1 being the oldest and factory 2 having been substantially constructed in 1994. These two factories share the overall building whereas for the new and additional proposed factory, it is planned to create a stand alone building (see The new Ibstock factory).

Bricks are dried in tunnel driers. The driers are heated using recovered heat from the kiln and additional heat applied using gas burners. The bricks are removed from the driers and set onto kiln cars, the kiln cars then pass into a totally enclosed tunnel kiln for firing. The kiln is fired using natural gas burners.

After firing the bricks are then removed from the kiln car or ‘dehacked’ and put in to a brick pack format before placing on the stockyard ready for despatch. From the time clay enters the factory to leaving the building as a finished brick takes just 6 days.

The need for a new factory

Demand for bricks

The Office for National statistics (ONS) recorded a decline of around 40% in the production of bricks in GB in recent years (from 2.47bn in 2007 to 1.46bn in 2012 and a similar decline in stocks (from around 1.1bn in 2008 to 0.515bn in 2012).

In comparison to this manufacturing backdrop, the Construction Products Association forecasts a 30%+ increase in house building starts – from around 135,000 in 2013 to around 180,000 in 2017.

The Brick Development Association (BDA) considers that recent Government initiatives, namely the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme and the ‘Get Britain Building Campaign’ have contributed to the recovery in new house starts – reported by the National House Building Council as rising by 18% during the three months leading up to May 2014 (which equates to a 7% year on year market increase for brick manufacturing).

In its statement on the question of brick manufacturing capacity issued in 2013, the BDA went on to say that the brick market was expected to grow between 10-15% in that year (relative to the previous year) and that if that pattern continues UK manufacturers will need to bring back mothballed capacity and invest in new capacity – as long as selling price levels are sufficient to justify such investments.

In its monthly statistics of building materials and components (published in February 2014) the ONS reported that deliveries of bricks in GB rose by 51.2% in 2013.

Imported bricks


In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of bricks imported to the UK, in part, as a result of plant closures implemented by UK manufacturers during the economic recession and inability to supply bricks from the UK to meet our own demand.

It is estimated that around 400 million bricks per annum are currently being imported to the UK.

The Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills therefore supports proposals which would maintain and prolong brick making capacity in the UK and which involve inward investment in the essential plant and machinery necessary to maintain these capital intensive businesses.

The existing Leicester factories have the capacity to manufacture approximately 90 million bricks per year. The proposed new and additional factory at the Leicester site would be able to produce a further 100 million bricks per year which equates to 15,000 new homes alone. The bricks are typical of the volume house building products used in many schemes. The majority of bricks are used within 80 radial miles of the Leicester site.

Environmental Management

This section describes the Environmental Management System (EMS) at the Ibstock site. Ibstock Brick were the first multi-site clay brick maker to have ISO 14001 at all of its operational sites. In addition Ibstock are also proud to hold BES 6001 ‘Responsible Sourcing’ and ISO 50001 an international standard for energy management. We manage compliance across all these standards with the corporate and site Environmental Management System.

The Environmental Management System encompasses the whole site, including quarries, stockpiles and factory curtilage. All employees are involved in the Environmental Management System. The key to success is ensuring that each person has ownership of his/her area, so that the ultimate goals from the site-based Environmental Policy could be achieved.

As part of the EMS a structure has been devised, to ensure full compliance with environmental legislation, along with projects to meet environmental objectives e.g. the reduction in energy usage and emissions, and the recycling of waste.

The EMS ensures ongoing compliance with the PPC Part A2 Permit issued by North West Leicestershire District Council as required by the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations.

BES 6001 ‘Responsible Sourcing’ is based upon the assessment that all materials used in the manufacture of the product is responsibly sourced. This involved auditing the supply chain of all suppliers including their; Quality, Environment, Health and Safety, Employment conditions and Ethical standards.

All of the work in the community which has long since been commonplace at the Ibstock site featured significantly in the certification, giving recognition to the efforts exerted by the factory (see Community projects and relations).

There are two candidate/potential LWSs within the site boundary located to the west of the proposed new factory development; Ibstock Claypit Pond cLWS and Ibstock Claypit grassland pLWS. These sites have developed through Ibstock land stewardship and previous land restoration work. They have been developed as part of our planning and estates management. It will be Ibstocks intention to not only retain these features but, where possible, enhance them as part of the future development.

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The history of the site

The Ibstock site takes its name from its original base in the village.

Clay extraction for brick making has been taking place at the site for nearly 200 years, with the forerunner to the present factory being associated with the historical colliery activities. The historic uses of land at the site have been investigated by reviewing old Ordnance Survey maps.

The historic OS mapping indicates the land-uses that have taken place at the site. It appears that a gasworks was associated with the former colliery with a single gasometer. In the 1880s a colliery was present with three shafts and brickworks is shown on site in a similar position to the current factory. Railways and tips associated with the colliery and brick works are present.

From the early 1900’s saw the expansion of the colliery and brickworks, with a quarry/clay pit present. Expansion of the colliery was notable through to the 1930’s.

By the mid 1950’s the colliery is no longer present on site. The brickworks expanded with a number of clay pits surrounding the works.

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Brick making has taken place on the site progressively utilising buildings from the north of the site in the old ‘North Works’ buildings and then concurrently with the ‘South Works’. The North Works buildings are still present on site however these are now used by Forticrete Limited (a member of the Ibstock Group of Companies) but for the manufacture of concrete products.

Elements of the existing brickworks buildings can be traced back to the early ‘South Works’. The buildings have progressively been built-up and added too, notably the major development in 1994 involving the erection of a new kiln shed and associated development. Vast modifications and investment is carried out on plant and machinery inside the factory. It is necessary to continually modify and update plant and machinery in order to ensure that the factory can continue to produce bricks efficiently.

Clay extraction has always taken place in close proximity to the brick factory buildings and this previously formed the North and South works quarries. The South works quarry adjacent Pretoria Road has long since been restored and planted with woodland in the late 1990’s. This woodland, together with the planting around the factory has grown to become prominent in the local landscape.

The north quarry area was also restored and final profiling completed in the mid 1990’s but retaining larger open spaces including grassland and lakes. The large fishing lake in the south western corner of the site is well used by Ibstock fishing clubs and this, together with areas of the open grassland, have achieved Local Wildlife Site status. It is within part of this former North Quarry area Ibstock propose to build the new brick factory and stockyards.

All of the perimeter woodland plantations and the Wildlife site designations will be retained. An area of woodland in the centre of the site will be replaced with new perimeter planting and a landform to augment the surrounding woodland and screening.

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There are a number of planning permissions associated with the existing brick factories dating back pre 1959. The planning consents relate either to the existing buildings or to the offices and other buildings on site.

The existing access that is utilised by Ibstock was granted planning consent in 1969 (application reference 69/2932/17) and originally related to an application for the development of a warehouse and storage depot on land to the west of the access onto Leicester Road. Repositioning of the access was complete some years later.

The Proposed Development comprising the new brick factory and clay preparation building do not replace any of the existing buildings. The development will use the existing access, regarding which detailed transport assessments have been undertaken.

Indirect employment

In addition to direct employment, the very nature of the factory existence means that secondary, indirect employment is generated. Many companies provide a service to the factory through both goods and skills.

The construction phase for the new factory is likely to result in a number of employment opportunities, both directly through contractors working on the development as well as indirectly through the supply of materials and plant.

Quarrying activities are closely associated with the factory. Ibstock employ clay extraction contractors who are present on site throughout the year. The annual clay winning also requires the attendance of specialist external contractors including Geotechnical specialists, ecologists and archaeologists to name a few.

In addition to the above, the factory also engages lorry drivers, who collect and distribute bricks. The planning application for the new and additional factory will increase the brick output from the site as a whole, meaning the number of contracted lorry drivers will also increase. We are proposing to increase the number of dedicated lorry parking spaces in the site.

The Ibstock site not only provides both direct and indirect stable employment but also, employment which is diverse in nature.

Direct employment

The Ibstock site boasts an impressive employment record constituting long-standing employees. Currently 134 people are directly employed in the existing factories at the site with a mixture of different skills, age and experience. Not all persons are on site at any one time due to shift patterns. The factories operate on a 4 day on and 4 day off rotation with Night Shift manufacturing employees and engineering staff also on site. We are proud that over 110 of these employees live in North West Leicestershire.

The site also has a large number of mechanical and electrical engineers. In 2013 the site employed craft apprentices and Ibstock Brick have a comprehensive apprentice training scheme. Apprentices are selected following site assessment and recruitment days. The assessment itself provided the opportunity for many local candidates to gain valuable training and interview experience.

The apprenticeships last for about 4 years and combine residential study at EEF Engineering Training School in Birmingham, with on-the-job learning with an experienced mentor. On completion of the Apprenticeship you will achieve a BTEC Level 3 qualification and a NVQ Level 3 qualification in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering.

Examples of subjects studied across the apprentice schemes:

  • Mechanical and Electrical Principles and Applications
  • Electro, Pneumatic and Hydraulic Systems and Devices
  • Engineering Maintenance Procedures and Techniques
  • Monitoring and Fault Diagnosis of Engineering Systems
  • Principles and operation of Three-Phase Systems
  • Features and Applications of Electrical Machines
  • Electronic Fault Finding

The money put into the local economy through factory employment and services rendered amounts to over £7.5 million per annum. An immeasurable amount of purchasing power then disseminates from all persons employed directly and indirectly by the factory.

In addition to the factory employees around 130 support services staff are based at the Ibstock site which serves as the headquarters for the Ibstock Group of Companies. In addition to sales and marketing divisions the head office staff includes; CAD design services, computer and networking technicians, accounts, human resources, estates and a laboratory.

Head Office employees again include many local people and with a wage bill in excess of £4.5 million per annum it is again a considerable contribution to the spending power in the economy. Many of the departments in the Head Office procure the services of expert consultants and service staff, drawing these into the area from around the Country. The annual spend on these consultant services is significant.

Over £320,000 per annum is currently paid in Business Rates to North West Leicestershire District Council.

The new Ibstock factory will result in employment for around 50 persons across brick manufacturing and support services sectors. It is anticipated this alone will generate an additional spend of £3.5 million per annum in wages and services rendered, plus around £200,000 additional contribution to local Business Rates.

The total value of direct employment at the Ibstock site, including all support services and the proposed new factory is therefore in excess of £12.5 million per annum.

Over view of the new Ibstock factory development


Ibstock wishes to carry out development to create a new and additional brick factory, including:

  • construction of a new production building housing brick manufacturing/processing plant, packaging area and other ancillary plant (including flue stack and associated flue gas cleaning abatement equipment);
  • construction of a new clay preparation building housing the front-end components of the brick making process, including feed hopper and overhead conveyors;
  • construction of additional stockyard area to store; packaged bricks, processing/manufacturing components and to improve vehicle circulation;
  • a dedicated area for Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) parking and sheeting;
  • additional staff car parking and reorganisation of existing car parking arrangements associated with the offices and laboratory;
  • construction of a landscaped screening bund to the south west and to the north west of the new stockyard area; and
  • construction of a new surface water drainage system and a surface water attenuation feature to the south of the new buildings.

The site

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The existing Ibstock Brick factories and the associated quarry are located to the immediate north east of Ibstock and to the west of Ellistown and approximately 1.5km south of Coalville. The site is bounded to the north by Leicester Road and to the south by Pretoria Road. The western part of the site is bounded by the village of Ibstock. Access to the brickworks is from Leicester Road. Around the site is the dense woodland screening planted by Ibstock many years ago. As part of the proposed new factory development we plan to again complete further woodland planting.

The key physical features in the surrounding area include:

  • the brickworks (inclusive of ancillary features such as offices, car parks, stockyards
  • the restored area to the north and west of the Brickworks, commonly referred to as the ‘north quarry’;
  • the Davidsons offices and Go Plant yard to the north west (outside of the site boundary);
  • the Forticrete (Cebastone) factory to the north of the brickworks (to the south west of the access road);
  • the candidate Local Wildlife Site (cLWS) and the potential Local Wildlife Site (pLWS) within the site boundary located to the west of the Proposed Development; Ibstock Claypit Pond cLWS and Ibstock Claypit grassland pLWS;
  • the Local Wildlife Site (LWS) to the immediate south west of the brickworks;
  • various Public Rights of Way (PROW) and a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT);
  • Ibstock Cemetery on Pretoria Road to the south west of the brickworks;
  • properties in the immediate vicinity of the site including those on Leicester Road, Spring Road and Pretoria Road;
  • the restored area to the south of the brickworks now comprising a significant woodland plantation, commonly referred to as the restored ‘south quarry’ area;
  • Ibstock Quarry immediately to the east of the brick factories;
  • Ibstock Brook running east to west along the northern periphery of the quarry, which is then culverted beneath the Ibstock site to its discharge point;
  • Ellistown Brickworks to the east of Whitehill Road approximately 2.4km to the east of the Ibstock site; and
  • Common Hill Wood and Workmans Wood, both part of the National Forest, to the south of Pretoria Road.