Is scheme the Gateway to thousands of jobs?

editorial image

PLANS are on the table for a major technology and distribution park that could create up to 14,000 new jobs on land around Coventry Airport.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Development Partnership, a joint venture between Coventry Airport owners Rigby Family Holdings and Roxhill Properties, is seeking outline planning permission for a ‘technology hub’ of high-value research and development and low-carbon technology to the north of the airport and logistics and distribution warehouses between the airport and Bubbenhall.

The application - called the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway - contains detailed proposals for landscaping around the two sites and highway improvements designed to tie in with Highways Agency scheme to improve Tollbar Island.

Together these are predicted to create between 9,600 and 13,000 jobs, with a further 4,000 coming from development of the Jaguar Land Rover site north of the A45.

Warwick District Council chief executive Bill Hunt said there would be a ‘firewall’, ensuring those officials and councillors involved in developing the scheme were not involved in the planning decision.

The scheme is due to go before Warwick District Council’s planning committee and its counterpart at Coventry City Council in December.

Because it breaches elements of the new National Planning Policy Framework, the scheme will automatically go before an inspector from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Residents in Bubbenhall are opposed to plans for more warehouses, which they fear will harm views from the village, and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has opposed development, saying there are no exceptional circumstances to justify building in the green belt.

The Government has repeatedly said it supports relaxing planning laws to enable job creation, but Mr Hunt said planning consent was not a foregone conclusion. He said: “It would seem to tick all the boxes for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but might not tick all the boxes for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

“Nobody could say it’s a done deal and that the Government won’t consider it very carefully.”