JAGUAR Land Rover has applied for council permission to ‘temporarily’ pull out of its part in a major technology park scheme – to enable the rest to go ahead.
The scheme is intended to create thousands of jobs in the Coventry and Warwickshire region – but JLR’s involvement has been postponed.
The application has been submitted to enable the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre scheme to progress without the luxury car manufacturer developing the 8,500 square metres of floor space it was expected to occupy.
The proposal comes after JLR announced in March it would postpone development of the £500million 60-acre ‘Whitley South’ research and development site, next to its existing headquarters.
Warwick District Council is set to grant planning permission to remove ‘condition 13’ – which restricts the remainder of the £80million government-funded battery facility works progressing in advance of JLR’s development.
The scheme in its entirety was intended to help secure the region as the hub of JLR’s expansion and transition to the latest green technology.
Objections to JLR being allowed to desert the scheme – temporarily, at least – were lodged by Baginton and Stoneleigh and Ashow parish councils, Warwick district councillors Pamela Redford and Trevor Wright, and members of the public.
A Baginton Parish Council spokesperson said: “There are serious concerns regarding the removal of condition 13 following the withdrawal/postponement announced by JLR.
“(It) no longer discharges the conditions of the economic and employment elements presented in the original application.
“There is no indication as to what will happen to 8500 square metres of space nor what it will be used for, which is not acceptable.”
In recommending it for approval, Warwick District Council officers state in a report: “The proposed variation of condition would accord with current planning policies and would not reduce the economic benefits of the proposed development.”
Officers say progress is being made in developing the battery facility which will bring huge economic benefits.
A JLR spokesperson said: “JLR is still committed to develop the site but, as a result of recent multiple headwinds simultaneously affecting the automotive industry and leading to challenges for the business, the company has been unable to proceed to the timing that was originally planned.
“We are taking the necessary steps to address these challenges through our ‘Charge’ transformation programme but as a consequence there is to be a delay to our involvement in the Whitley South development.
“To prevent any impact on the delivery of the wider employment site, we have asked for permission for the removal of the condition that Jaguar Land Rover be the first to occupy part of the site.”