‘14,000-jobs’ plan for Coventry Airport faces further delay

The decision over a major jobs scheme on green belt around Coventry Airport has been delayed until April 2014.

According to The Telegraph, the Warwick District Council’s planning committee ruling on the Coventry and Warwickshire Gateway scheme will be delayed following the commissioning of an independent report.

In December last year, the committee was split, with five councillors supporting the controversial 700-acre technology park and logistics/warehouse development, and five voting against. According to the developers, the scheme would create up to 14,000 jobs, though opponents have debated the figure. A decision was made to defer a final ruling while seeking more information.

However, later, behind closed doors, the committee decided to commission a new report examining the developers’ claims, led by airport owner Sir Peter Rigby and council officers backing the scheme.

London-based consultants, GL Hearn, have been asked to work on the new report, when it studies the scheme for the second time. Warwick Council planning officer, Rob Young, said, ‘They’re looking in more detail. We’ve asked them whether there’s a need or demand for the development, whether there are alternative sites where it could go, and to look again at the jobs figures.’

Some councillors have criticised the council officers over the narrow remit in commissioning the first Hearn report, saying that it lacked detailed analysis over the 14,000 jobs claims. According to the report, there was ‘inherent uncertainty’ in the jobs claims, and over ‘net new jobs’ rather than relocating local firms. It also said that it was not commissioned to review the Gateway’s ‘financial viability’ or ‘deliverability’.

Last December, Coventry City Council planning committee approved a relatively small part of the scheme inside the city’s boundary.

The new report is expected in early March. A provisional committee date for March has now been deferred until April 9, or the following day at the earliest.

Councillor George Illingworth, planning committee chairman, said that the intention was to give people in the community time to respond to the report before the committee meets.