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Gateway development approved

by richarddickson on 15 December, 2018

There were lots of objections which got long consideration at this week’s District Planning Committee meeting before eventually permission was granted, subject to extra conditions.  I appreciate that this was clearly not an easy decision but improvements have been made which, as set out below, result in my opinion in a better development than would otherwise have been the case.

This application was for a site designated in the Local Plan as a sub regional development/ employment site with the potential of significant job creation. The site had been removed from the green belt for the purpose of enabling this development and was commented on by the Local Plan inspector.

As the site had been identified in the new Local Plan, unless there were significant planning reasons for rejecting the application, the Nnational Planning Policy Framework is clear that permission must be granted, there were no significant planning reasons for a refusal.

The bund areas were retained in the green belt to provide the surety of no further encroachment of the development. A significant item of objection was that the bunds were large and were to be made up of treated polluted soil and a cement mix, and that trees could break up the bund material and cause pollution. This is not agreed by the Environment Agency, however thanks to the work of LibDem Cllr Alan Boad the time (by condition) upon which the bund should be monitored and repaired/replaced if there were problems of breakdown was increased from 5 years to 10 years.

A new access road is within the site and avoids Baginton village, exiting to a new roundabout system by Whitley South and on to the A45. A short stretch of Bubbenhall Road will be used by this access road to get around the end of the runway, the road then continues through airport land, behind Baginton village. Again, thanks to Alan Boad, the access and egress from this existing stretch of road will be designed so that the obvious route is on the new road, thus by-passing the village.

The question of the impact of the bunds on the openness of the Green Belt has now been referred to the Secretary of State (based upon a query from the SoS).

The development will provide significant employment opportunities, new public transport links, provide a new rugby ground/facility, new public parkland with cycling, walking and horse riding opportunities, and the removal/treatmentof heavily polluted land and old sewage ponds and a vehicle test track. The existing visual impact of the development, the airport buildings and Middlemarch Industrial Estate will be reduced by the bunds and planting.

In summary:

The site is in the Local Plan for employment and has been removed from the green belt.

There were no objections from the statutory agencies.

There were no planning grounds for refusal.

This is a major sub regional employment site supported by the LEP with the potential creation of up to 5,000 jobs. Given the uncertainties of Brexit, the development will help support just in time manufacturing in the region. It will help enable capacity for building on the expertise in the manufacturing specialities of Warwick and Coventry Universities and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre. It will provide opportunities and capacity to develop emerging technological developments and jobs for our children and grandchildren.

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