Green light for £50 million Stoneleigh science park
PLANS to turn Stoneleigh Park into a centre of excellence for agricultural science and sustainability have been given the go-ahead, despite misgivings from heritage groups and residents.
Owners of the park La Sall Investment Management plan £50 million investment over the next ten years to turn the site into a science park specialising in rural and equine businesses.
But residents of nearby villages said the plans intruded on the Grade II* listed parkland around Stoneleigh Abbey, itself Grade I listed.
Warwick District Council’s planning committte gave outline planning permission for the scheme on Wednesday after hearing from both sides.
Representing Stoneleigh and Ashow joint parish council, Cllr Jane Mackenzie said plans would “replace cowsheds with call centres” and claimed the scheme had been rushed through with little consultation.
She added there was already 22 years’ supply of office buildings in the area, adding: “Creating more stock of probably empty offices will not create jobs.”
Christine Hodgetts of the Warwickshire Gardens Trust cast doubt on the application’s credentials as a ‘masterplan’ and said English Heritage’s “very strong” objection had been “considerably weakened” in planning officers’ report.
Calling for a landscaping strategy, she said there were “strong anxieties” about the proliferation of buildings.
Andrew Bull, European director of La Salle Investment Management, said agriculture - a significant part of the UK economy - had considerable scope to expand at Stoneleigh Park.
Ward councillor Bertie Mackay (Ind, Stoneleigh) said there had been “the most thorough and extensive” consultation he had known. He added La Salle had a “proven track record” in developing science parks and the scheme would rescue the former National Agricultural Centre from slow deterioration.
Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill) said the park was a valuable asset. Cllr Linda Bromley (Con, Warwick South) said regeneration overrode any objections, but chairman George Illingworth (Con, Kenilworth Abbey) underlined the importance of getting traffic alleviation right.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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