30th Jun, 2022

Delayed Coventry airport verdict due next month

Coventry Editorial 22nd Jan, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A DELAYED decision on plans for “up to 10,000 jobs” on Greenbelt land around Coventry Airport is not expected until next month.

Government ministers have stayed tightlipped on the precise reasons for ongoing delays to the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway project following a public inquiry last year, despite demands from MPs for an explaination in November.

The manufacturing and distribution scheme was granted planning permission by Coventry City Council and Warwickshire District Council in 2012 and 2013.

But those decisions were called in for review by the government following widescale public protests and concerns about the Greenbelt.

Brandon Lewis MP, minister for housing and planning, has written to Coventry North west Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson in response to his concerns.

The letter states: “This is clearly an important issue and we are actively progressing it.

“It does involve the careful consideration of a considerable amount of evidence and the inspector’s report into the public inquiry.

“…The decision will be issued on or before 5th February. For propriety reasons it would not be appropriate to meet to discuss this case.”

Campaigners against the Gateway have also received notification from the goverment and believe there will be no decision this month.

It has been billed as the most important job creation scheme for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Airport tycoon owner Sir Peter Rigby, the man behind the Gateway, has claimed it would bring £250million of investment and up to 14,000 jobs.

That figure included 10,000 jobs around the airport, with a further 4,000 jobs “unlocked” at nearbly Whitley Business Park by supporting infrastructure.

But much of that infrastrcuture, changes to roads around the A45/A46 Whitley junction, is already going ahead without approval for the Gateway.

The gateway proposal received around 1,000 objections, including from residents and parish councils in Warwickshire villages and environment campaigners.

Independent reports have challenged the scheme’s jobs estimates, claiming it was more likely to attract around 6,000 jobs at best.

Campaigners say the scheme contravenes government rules on Greenbelt.

They argue the “very special circumstances” required for the release of Greenbelt do not exist, not least because they claim more suitable sites have already been allocated for large employment schemes, including Ansty Park.

Local planning permission was granted on the condition communities secretary Eric Pickles would not intervene in what was Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s flagship jobs project when Sir Peter was its chairman.

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