10th Dec, 2016

Environment campaigners set to fight Jaguar Land Rover green belt plan

Les Reid 13th Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have raised objections to Coventry’s proposals to expand Jaguar Land Rover’s operations into the green belt.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) says new jobs at JLR are welcome, but not at the expense of the green belt.

Green belt land south of the A45 was this week publicly identified by Coventry City Council as the site earmarked for expansion plans for JLR’s Whitley site located the other side of the A45.

JLR’s proposed expansion at Whitley was first revealed last year.

JLR has since confirmed it is developing the proposal for part of the 60 acre site, which could become home to administration operations. That could free up space for expansion of the current research facility.

It could depend on an application for £40million of government funding for a new A45 road bridge being successful.

Planning applications are expected to be submitted to Coventry City Council and Warwick District Council planning committees.

They were both overruled by the government a year ago, when it refused planning permission on green belt protection grounds for the ‘Gateway’ development – which would have been on a larger area of the land around nearby Coventry Airport.

More than 1000 objections to the failed Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway proposal for ‘thousands of new jobs’ in advanced manufacturing and warehousing came from residents, parish councils in Warwickshire, Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright and the CPRE.

The now departed communities secretary Eric Pickles MP blocked the development on the grounds that there were no “very special circumstances” required for building in protected greenbelt.

Since then, Warwick District Council has proposed declassifying sections of greenbelt around the airport and adjacent A45 which lie within its borders, in its Local Plan.

Responding to this week’s news, the Warwickshire branch of CPRE said today: “Let Jaguar Land Rover expand – but not into the green belt.”

A statement  reads: “CPRE welcomes the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover’s activities in Coventry.

“However, we view with great concern the business park element of these proposals.  This would be to the south of the A45, between it and Coventry Airport.

“All this land is in the Green Belt and a proposal for the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway development of a business park at the same location was rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government last year because there were insufficient grounds for overturning green belt policy.”

CPRE’s Mark Sullivan said: “Jaguar Land Rover is a valued contributor to Coventry’s economy, but this does not give them a licence to build wherever they want.  It is about time major firms and the local authorities that work so closely with them show some responsibility by working within planning policies rather than seeking to flout them at every turn”.

Protesters against the Gateway had argued other more suitable brownfield sites were available in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Coventry City Council’s ruling Labour group yesterday pushed through council a six-week consultation on its new Local Plan, which allocates land for business and housing development until 2031.

As we have reported, it includes controversially identifying 10 per cent of the city’s Greenbelt – green land supposed to prevent urban sprawl between towns and cities – to help build 25,000 new homes, enabling the city’s population to grow by a quarter to more than 420,000 people.

They say job creation sites are an integral part of their Local Plan for sustainable development, which would meet national expectations and local aspirations for Coventry’s population growth.