FIVE hours of deliberation on Wednesday night between objectors, supporters and decision-makers on the Coventry Gateway scheme ended in stalemate.
After being encouraged by Warwick District Council planning officers to support the £250 million scheme - put forward by the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway Development - councillors on the planning committee listened to three hours of passionate arguments by 16 speakers as to why they thought it should or should not be granted permission.
But feelings between the councillors, who were meeting a week after Coventry City Council voted to approve the section that affects its area, were split - and when a vote was finally cast at 11pm, five were in favour and five were against.
Speaking after the meeting, committee chairman Cllr George Illingworth, who had made clear his personal opposition to the project’s plan to build on green belt land, said: “The decision has been deferred because there was a feeling that this was too major an application for me to make the casting vote as chairman.
“There was so much unclarity about things. We wanted independent verification of the information supplied to us by the developer.“
During the evening’s debate, Cllr Richard Brookes encouraged his fellow committee members to vote in favour of the scheme, saying: “This could be the site that can provide the opportunities that we need to bring forward the economy.”
But Cllr Alan Rhead pointed out: “There is not one mention of how Warwick district people will get to the site. The transport links are very poor.”
On Thursday morning Graham Pardoe, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway Development, said in reaction to the evening’s outcome: “A significant amount of work and investment has gone into working up this application and we will work closely with officers and members to supply any other information they require to help them reach a decision.”
A more detailed account of the arguments put forward at Wednesday’s meeting will be in next week’s Courier.