Residents' bid to block Gateway development

By Matthew Bates Thursday 01 November 2012 Updated: 05/11 10:21

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Buy photos » Alan Roe, chairperson Joanne Shattock, Bob Powell, Vicky Fletcher and Mark Symes (kneeling) at the campaign against Gateway meeting Bubbenhall earlier this week. (s)

A FIGHT back has begun by residents who claim to be terrified by ambitious plans for a huge new development on the outskirts of the city.

Scores turned out for a public meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the Gateway development near Coventry Airport.

It is claimed the manufacturing and technology hub could create 10,000 jobs, with improved road layouts resulting in 4,000 new jobs in Whitley.

Campaign Against Gateway, a group set up to fight the proposals, saw residents from Finham, Cheylesmore and Whitley join with nearby villages at Bubbenhall Village Hall to fight the plans.

They described the £250million development as insulting, while the sheer size of the 741-acre green belt development terrified nearby residents.

And they labelled the plans a red herring for Coventry Airport development, after the site missed out on becoming a government-backed enterprise zone last year.

The proposals are backed by airport owner Sir Peter Rigby in his role as chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, a group of influential business figures and council leaders from Coventry and Warwickshire.

Mark Symes, campaign chairman, said: "The findings of our painstaking and detailed examination of the planning application show beyond doubt that the Gateway project is seriously flawed and the 'very tangible economic benefits' have little chance of being realised.

"This planning application should be rejected by the councillors who represent us," he added.

Among those to speak at Tuesday's meeting included Bubbenhall residents Bob Powell, a former doctor of the University of Warwick Language Centre, and Alan Roe, a former principal economist at the World Bank with over 45 years' experience in finance including 30 years teaching at the university.

Mr Roe said evidence from personal research indicated a 50 per cent chance of fewer than 3,000 jobs on the logistics park compared to the 6,000 jobs claimed.

In a 36-page report compiled by him, he concluded: "There is no conceivable possibility that a new modern warehouse and distribution facility built on green belt land could ever attain the job levels achieved by, for example, the University of Warwick over a 50 year period, but that is what the planning application claims."

Planning applications submitted by the Coventry and Warwickshire Development Partnership are set to be scrutinised by both Coventry council and at Warwick District Council next month as land falls into both areas.

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Buy photos» Dozens turned out to hear more details about the scheme. (s)

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