Gateway campaigners fight on as decision day looms

By Matthew Bates Wednesday 12 December 2012 Updated: 13/12 21:39

CAMPAIGNERS against a controversial plan to build on green belt land around Coventry Airport will call on the government to axe the scheme if councils vote it through.

City councillors were expected to give Coventry Gateway the green light on Thursday.

Planning officers have already recommended it go-ahead, despite it cutting through over 200 acres of countryside and 650 objections being received.

The scheme will see land around Baginton’s airport transformed into a business hub, with bid bosses claiming up to 14,000 jobs will be created after road improvements in nearby Whitley are also completed.

Mark Symes, chairman of the Campaign against Coventry Gateway, said he hoped the government would ‘call in’ the decision because of its effect on the countryside.

Communities minister Eric Pickles could have the deciding vote and has already spoken of the need for protection of green belt land nationally.

And he said Warwick District Council’s planning committee decision - set for next Thursday - would prove pivotal.

“I’m confident in my argument, but not in the professionalism and impartially of councils,” he said.

“I can understand why Coventry council has been so pushy, they have run up an enormous budget deficit of £61m. They are desperate for any cash and this will be a windfall.

“It’s a Labour council and they see us as the rich Nimby’s who have blue blood running through our veins, it’s actually on the contrary and we’re just ordinary people looking out for what we believe in.”

He added similar sites at Ryton and Ansty were already primed and ready for businesses to move in.

And he slammed top city councillor Lynnette Kelly for her views on green belt land.

But Coun Kelly, cabinet member for city development, said land around the airport was heavily contaminated and the development would give the area a public park.

She added she believed the jobs figures would prove accurate.

“Assessments have been done at the site by people who have nothing to gain from the plan, and we have seen evidence the figures are viable.

“The potential for jobs is the key and if nobody wants to build anything, nothing will get built.

“This site is ideal for access to motorways whereas alternatives are quite a trek.”

See coventryobserver.co.uk later for a report on Thursday's meeting.

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