Major £500m JLR expansion gets green light

Big boosts are heading to the district after a major £500 million expansion plan for Jaguar Land rover was signed off by the government.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 10:19 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 12:32 pm
Artists impression of the proposed new bridge

Building work can now start on an expanded research and development centre which will double the size of the existing Whitley site and improve access roads.

The new 60-acre space will lie between the A45 and Coventry Airport, known as Whitley South, and be linked to existing offices with a new bridge over the main road.

As the development is on green belt land, the Government scrutinised the plans - approved in April - to see if a planning inquiry was needed.

Artists impression of the proposed new bridge

Following a decision by the Secretary of State on Wednesday night, the development can proceed as planned and work could start as early as the end of this year.

But work will continue to ensure the build into the district’s open countryside is done sensitively.

The investment by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is the latest phase in £500 million of improvements in the area and will secure the district as the setting for the company’s global headquarters.

The new space will bring together engineers, designers and product development experts who currently work across the company’s offices at Gaydon and Whitley.

Artists impression of the proposed new bridge

It will also allow space for expansion and new offices and workshops by some of the engineering company’s immediate suppliers.

And while the exact number of jobs to be created is not yet known, it would vastly increase the 10,000 already employed across the two sites.

The new build is expected to start later this year in what Cllr Andrew Mobbs, leader of Warwick District Council, described it as “great news”.

“This is an important step towards the development of Whitley South as a major employment site for the region and directly supports JLR’s expansion plans,” he said.

“I am particularly pleased that the approved plans include new areas of open public space and a country park between the site and Baginton.”

The site lies within the district, but development is being managed in partnership with Coventry City Council.

And work is now being done to manage problems of bringing greater volumes of traffic onto some of the areas most congested roads and junctions - as well as expansion into open countryside.

A city council spokesperson said the next stage of work will see further dialogue and designs for the layout building in a “sensitive green belt site”.

The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has applied for a £40m government grant to pay for the link routes.

Jonathan Browning, LEP chair, said: “This a hugely positive step and one that should now see major investment into the region and many new jobs.

“JLR is a major success story for Coventry and Warwickshire and this news will see that continue into the future.”

“It’s yet another vote of confidence in this region as a place to do business and as a place where international companies want to invest for the long term.