Gateway decision could be ‘worrying precedent’

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Approving the Gateway project would set a ‘worrying precedent’ in open countryside, warn councillors ahead of a meeting to fight the build.

Campaigners against the million pound business park outside Coventry Airport will hold a public meeting in Bubbenhall tonight (Friday).

And determined speaker Cllr Ann Blacklock said it is a crucial time to make strength of opposition known ahead of a three-week long public inquiry set to start on April 8.

Cllr Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey), was on the district council planning committee which approved the build by seven votes to three last year.

And she said if this decision is upheld in the inquiry, it could spell “devastation” for the future of open countryside, adding: “We have to be very careful about what we will allow and this will have a big impact on our open land.

“The Gateway will be a mega development into our countryside and the outcome of the public inquiry will prove a huge test case for the future.

“If this is permitted it could set a worrying precedent for development in open countryside and nowhere in the district will be safe.”

The proposed business and distribution park near Coventry Airport could create up to 10,500 jobs across the region and over £2.5million has already been spent on the application, which was approved last year.

The Coventry and Warwickshire development partnership - which is managing the £250 million scheme - 
described it as a “major financial project for this area”.

Warwick District Council (WDC) approved the application last summer. But after an appeal by objectors , Secretary of State Eric Pickles called in the decision, giving final say to the outcome of a public inquiry.

Tonight’s meeting hopes to show strength of opposition against the development and will include speakers, district councillors George Illingworth, Bertie McKay and Ann Blacklock as well as those from Bubbenhall, Baginton, Ashow and Stoneleigh and Finham Residents’ Association.

Organisers are urging everyone to come and fill the hall for what is expected to be a “lively evening” of debate.

The Against the Gateway group said: “Please encourage your neighbours to attend, the weight of our objection can be measured in the strength of local feeling which can be demonstrated by a large turnout.”

Speakers will explain the current planning situation and take questions.

The public inquiry will be held by the national planning inspectorate and starts at Leamington Town Hall on April 8.

It is expected to last for around three weeks. The application was granted by WDC by seven votes to three despite 798 letters of objection and only six in support.

Developers said the project will bring “lasting benefits to the economy” of Coventry and Warwickshire with new jobs and opportunities.