Another delay for Gateway plan

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A decision on the proposed £280 million Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway development has been put off until early next year.

Backers said the plan for the Coventry Airport area could create up to 10,000 jobs in technology, manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.

It prompted a storm of protest from about 900 objectors and parish councils, including Bubbenhall and Stoneleigh.

The plan was approved by Coventry and Warwick District councils and a public enquiry into the plan was later held.

But because it includes Greenbelt, in April it was “called in” by Eric Pickles, Communities and Local Government Secretary, to make the final decision, which was expected before Christmas.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has expressed its frustration over a further delay to a decision over what it said is “the prime employment site in the area”.

Jonathan Browning, chairman of the LEP, said: “We are disappointed by the delay. We called for a swift decision when we submitted our Strategic Economic Plan to Government, because we did not want the decision to be delayed.

“The economy in Coventry and Warwickshire has moved on a great deal since the application was first made, and employment sites are in short supply, especially of the size required by potential investors.

“For example, the former Peugeot plant at Ryton has proved hugely successful in attracting inward investment and space and is very close to being fully taken up.

“A recent report by Savills has highlighted the acute shortage of employment land – especially over 100,000 sq ft – and a rising demand with key transactions so far in 2014 totalling over 3.4 million sq ft across all the sites of that size across the region.

“Latest UK Trade & Industry figures show that Coventry and Warwickshire attracted more inward investment per head than any other area of the country outside London and we have to be able to have a pipeline of strategic development sites to allow that economic growth to continue.

“The growth agenda has been discussed by all local authorities, and the two involved in this site have given their approval and we hope the Secretary of State will follow suit.”

Opponents claimed promised high jobs numbers had never materialised at other large sites such as Ansty park, north of Coventry, arguing they were typically calculated on “flawed methodology” assessing potential use of space, not actual demand.