PLANS to create ‘600 jobs’ at Coventry Airport have taken a step forward.
The latest scheme for the redevelopment of former passenger facilities comes amid renewed plans to create potentially thousands of jobs near the airport, and concern from opponents wanting to protect the Greenbelt and nearby communities.
The airport’s tycoon boss Sir Peter Rigby has now submitted a final planning application to Warwick District Council to create a business park where the passenger facilities once served international tourism, until government planning restrictions brought about the demise of budget flights at Coventry.
Outline planning permission has already been secured for the manufacturing and distribution hub to be called Imperial Park – granted last December.
Andrew Cox, development manager for Rigby Group’s property division, said: “With the submission of our Reserved Matters Planning Application for Imperial Park, we have made a key step toward, taking an unused area and giving it renewed economic relevance as a modern business hub bringing jobs and investment to the local community.”
The company added: “Once complete, the development, which could bring up to 600 new jobs and a wealth of fresh investment into the local community, will have transformed an area of land that has lain unused for almost eight years following the closure of Coventry Airport’s passenger terminal and associated buildings.”
The company expects to issue invitations to tender for the park’s construction next month, and says it has already attracted interest from a “number of companies” due to the site’s “central location and excellent transport links”.
It says initial work is scheduled to commence on three self-contained units of approximately 63,500 sq ft, 165,000 sq ft and 350,000 sq ft in August – for completion in Spring 2017.
Coventry City Council earlier this year announced major expansion plans for Jaguar Land Rover into green land near the airport, A45 and its Whitley headquarters.
It has sparked renewed concern from environmental campaigners and other residential opponents in nearby villages who fought the former ‘Gateway’ scheme for giant manufacturing and distribution hubs around the airport.
The Gateway scheme was rejected last year by the government on Greenbelt grounds.
Since then, Warwick District Council has proposed to declassify parts of the land which fall within its borders, and release it from the Greenbelt.
Much of the opposition came from villages including Baginton, Bubbenhall and Stoneleigh, and from Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright, as well as 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. Campaigners have long argued other sites are more suitable.