Coventry business leaders lobby government over shortage of land for jobs - The Coventry Observer

16th Aug, 2022

Coventry business leaders lobby government over shortage of land for jobs

Les Reid 10th Mar, 2017

BUSINESS leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have brought to government ministers’ attention what they say is our region’s ‘acute employment land shortage’.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is raising the issue of a ‘lack of sites being set aside for new employment’ in councils’ Local Plans and the ‘damage that will have on future growth’.

As well as writing to and discussing the matter with local MPs, the Chamber has written to housing minister Gavin Barwell to seek his intervention, along with Chancellor Philip Hammond and the business secretary Greg Clark.

It is unclear what the government could do to intervene directly, having since 2010 insisted that local councils must make their own decisions on development, under the Conservatives’ localism agenda which Mr Clark has been at the forefront of.

Government-appointed independent inspectors have been brought in to assess Local Plans and intervene on proposed housing targets, and public inquiries have examined local decisions over proposed use of sites for employment, notably on the greenbelt.

The Chamber says the housing targets in Local Plans for councils across the area are roughly correct but the shortage of space set aside for commercial property will lead to unemployment.

In a reply letter, Mr Barwell wrote: “I am pleased to hear that the Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged and influencing the preparation of the Local Plan in the sub-region, supporting planning that can bring sustainable growth to the area.

“Local Plans are required to be supported by robust evidence that can justify plan proposals. The policies and proposals set out within a Plan, including scale of growth, will be tested at examination.

“I can, therefore, reassure you that any representations made by the Chamber to a published Local Plan will be considered by the Inspector as part of the examination process.

“The Neighbourhood Planning Bill currently progressing through Parliament is seeking to bring forward greater flexibility in plan-making. My officials will be willing to discuss this further with the authorities concerned and have already met with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and wish to maintain constructive dialogue with them. I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to actively engage in this work.”

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a matter of huge importance for the region and that is why we are taking such a strong stance.

“We are grateful to the minister for writing back and, while we appreciate he cannot go into detail, we believe his comments suggest that the authorities can set aside more employment land because there is evidence to show it is required.

“We are hearing from businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire that they want to expand but can’t find the space and we know that if a major inward investor came calling we would struggle to find suitable land set aside to house them.”

Support community journalism by making a contribution.

The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.

Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.

Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.

Are you on Facebook?

Like or follow our Facebook page - facebook.com/CovObserver to get daily news updates straight to your news feed.

Business Directory

From plumbers, to restaurants, we can provide you with all the info you need.

Subscribe

Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Digital Advertising

Advertise on the Coventry Observer to boost your online presence.

Public Notices

View and download all of the public notices in the Coventry Observer.