Unwavering opposition all set for Gateway public inquiry

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Gateway opposition groups have high hopes of fighting off the controversial business park as support stays solid ahead of a public inquiry.

Over 200 people fighting the £250million business park just outside Coventry came to show support against the move ahead of a three-week long public inquiry set to start on April 8.

Mark Symes, chairman of campaign group Against the Gateway, said after the huge turnout, they were confident of having a strong case in hope of stopping their greenbelt land being “churned up” by unsuitable development.

“We had over 200 people out on Friday night which is a great amount,” he said.

“The speakers were excellent and we had a very serious debate about this project.

“There was zero support for the Gateway. No one in the room was backing it.”

Mr Symes, who will give evidence as part of the inquiry, made it clear that the group was not against development opportunities in suitable areas where they were needed.

He said: “Building units of this size does not mean that they will create the thousands of jobs being promised, and that is a fundamental aspect of our campaign.

“The application is speculative and we do not believe there is the need for employment of this scale in this area.

“This plan is not established within the Local Plan and we are confident that we have a strong case ahead.”

He said that an opposition group plans to gather outside Leamington town hall on April 8 when the public inquiry will be launched. It is expected to last between three and five weeks.

And opposition groups are confident that their case will be heard and assessed fairly after already getting the attention of the Government.

The inquiry is taking place after Secretary of State Eric Pickles called in the decision by Warwick District Council to grant permission for the business park last year.

Almost 800 letters of objection were received over the build into greenbelt land which Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey), said would set a devastating precedent for open countryside if upheld.

“If this is permitted it could set a worrying precedent for development in open countryside and nowhere in the district will be safe,” she said.

The proposed business and distribution park near Coventry Airport could create up to 10,500 jobs across the region.

The Coventry and Warwickshire development partnership, which is managing the scheme, described it as a “major financial project” which will bring “lasting benefits to the economy” with jobs and opportunities.

Timeline of events to date

-Coventry City Council approved the Coventry & Warwickshire Gateway application.

- Warwick District Council deferred the planning decision

-​June 2013 Planning application passed by WDC by 7 votes to 3

-July 2013 application called in by Secretary of State

- April 2014 start date for public inquiry by the planning inspectorate. Set to last up to 5 weeks