A FORMER top secret underground military complex near Kidderminster could be turned into a wine storage facility under new plans submitted to the district council.

London City Bond (LCB) wants 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.

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.

In recent years, the tunnels have welcomed members of the public for regular open days and paranormal tours, which would be stopped altogether if plans went ahead.

One concerned resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "We have fought for over 20 years to have these tunnels available for people to have access to learn from.

"The Friends of Drakelow did tours from the 1990s and the newer volunteers who have been fantastic in the last few years.

"I have been on one of their recent tours and the work they do out of their own time would be lost forever - a criminal thing.

They added: "Our area is very popular with horse riders and cyclists and bringing five articulated lorries - 52 tonnes of wine - down a day and an unlimited amount of smaller vehicles to the site could become fatal if a driver of such a huge vehicle is not familiar with the area."

LCB has since reduced the number of delivery vehicles to three per working day, and says the facility would generate 'much needed' jobs in the rural area.

A company spokesman said: “LCB’s proposal for the site involves bringing the Drakelow Tunnels back into a commercial use, the purpose for which they were constructed in the first place in the 1940s.

"It also ensures that the historic tunnels will be properly maintained, which could otherwise be a costly exercise."

They added: "LCB have reviewed their operation in the light of concerns expressed by local residents and the parish council about the local road network, which is of course already used by a wide variety of private and delivery vehicles.

"We have been able to reduce the heavy goods vehicles which will deliver to and collect from the site to a maximum of three visits per working day via Sladd Lane - and not through Wolverley.

"The road network will also be used by employees’ cars and small delivery vans but that is no different to the type of traffic which already uses this local route."

Wolverley and Cookley Parish Council is set to discuss the proposal at its next meeting on June 4.

Michael Scott, tour guide for the Drakelow Restoration Volunteers, said: "We can confirm the planning application has been submitted but at this present time it is business as usual."