Coventry Gateway decision seen as a setback by backers

Outline of the proposed Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway.
Outline of the proposed Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway.

The decision to block the development of the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway could have profound long-term economic consequences for the area, according to the team behind the scheme.

But supporters of the project have said the land could still be used to boost the area’s economy in the future.

Eric Pickles turned down the scheme last week despite it having received approval from Coventry City Council and Warwick District Council and being backed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The £450 million development – entirely funded by private investment – was expected to create up to 10,000 jobs for the region and was to have included a new technology hub on land north of Coventry Airport and a major manufacturing and logistics hub to the south, also carrying out major road improvements to ease congestion and improve access around Jaguar Land Rover’s premises at Whitley Business Park.

A country park was designed to occupy nearly half of the overall site with the planting of 30,000 trees and 5km of hedgerows in addition to the establishment of 9.5km of new cycle and footpaths.

Sir Peter Rigby, one of the partners in the development, said: “We had no indication which way the minister would go, but having won support from the two planning authorities and with the backing of the business community, several local MPs and the LEP – not to mention being at the heart of Warwick District Council’s local plan – we were obviously disappointed to see this turned down.

“There is a tremendous amount of work from all parties to bring growth and prosperity to Coventry and Warwickshire and very positive strides have been made, but this is a significant setback not only to this scheme but to the wider region.

“The site is strategically well positioned, we know there is a need for employment land, we have fielded an encouraging level of enquiries and would have opened up much of the site for public access.”

Warwick District Council’s leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs described the decision as “disappointing” and said that in granting planning permission for the scheme the authority had weighed up the economic advantages of the scheme against the loss of Green Belt land in this part the district.

He added: “We do, however, welcome the Secretary of State’s conclusion that a strong case has been made for the development and that it would deliver economic benefits and environmental gains. This supports our view that this site could be a major boost for our local and the wider sub-regional economy. We will now need to very carefully study the reasons that the Secretary of State has given for his decision, and consider the implications of these as we move forward.”