WIDESPREAD opposition to plans for a major development around Coventry Airport has not deterred council officials from suggesting that it should go ahead.
Warwick District Council has received almost 800 letters of objection to the Coventry Gateway scheme – that would bring an ‘enterprise hub’ and network of roads to green belt land near Baginton, Bubbenhall and Stoneleigh – and only six letters of support.
Following doubts being raised about claims by local enterprise partnership (LEP), the Coventry and Warwickshire Development Partnership, which is behind the plans, that the scheme would create 14,000 jobs, the council commissioned an independent survey to investigate whether such a claim was backed by evidence. But planning officers are still recommending that councillors give their consent.
While Coventry City Council’s planning committee was expected to have made its decision on the scheme last night (Thursday), Warwick district councillors are due to make their decision on Wednesday.
In a report sent to councillors on the planning committee, officer Rob Young said: “The widespread benefits will incorporate not just the expectation of up to 14,000 jobs, but also economic, social and environmental benefits. They are significant and substantial. While we do not underestimate the importance of the Gateway’s green belt status, we believe that these benefits amount to very special circumstances which, in our view, demonstrably outweigh the harm caused by the proposal.”
The scheme requires consent to be given by both councils, but if only one refuses consent, the Partnership would have the right to appeal that decision.
But campaigners say that research they have undertaken shows that the scheme will only create a few hundred jobs and that there are other sites nearby that could be built on instead of on green belt land.
Among objectors were the parish councils of Baginton, Bubbenhall, Stoneleigh and Ashow and Old Milverton and Blackdown, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth, while Jeremy Wright MP and English Heritage have also raised concerns.
One objector, David Wintle, said: “Warwick District Council is blindly walking into this nightmare scenario, guided only by the LEP. The only way to prevent it is to say no to Gateway.”
The meeting on Wednesday takes place at Leamington town hall at 6pm.