Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry Gateway greenbelt business park rejected by Eric Pickles

Coventry Airport in 2009
Image caption The project was planned for land north and south of the airport

A £250m business park scheme on greenbelt land near Coventry airport has been turned down by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The Coventry Gateway project, including offices, a hotel and industrial units, attracted hundreds of objections before planners approved it.

Campaigners against the scheme said the minister's decision was "excellent".

The local enterprise partnership, which claimed it would create 10,000 jobs, said it was "perplexed" by the news.

'Stumbling block'

Mr Pickles decided to review the project, planned for land north and south of the airport, which had previously been approved by Coventry City and Warwick district councils.

Mark Symes, from Against the Gateway, said: "It reinforces what Eric Pickles has said... that protection of the greenbelt is sacrosanct.

"We felt that it was the major stumbling block in this application and more importantly we still believe that there are better and alternative sites in the area."

Sir Peter Rigby, from Rigby Group, one of the partners in the development, said he was "surprised" that the decision had been negative.

Jonathan Browning, chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said it was "extremely disappointing".

He said: "The LEP has long-viewed Gateway as a nationally-significant employment site in Coventry and Warwickshire - with real potential of attracting major development from inward investors and expanding companies.

"We firmly believe this would have further strengthened Coventry and Warwickshire's reputation as a driving economic force in the UK as the heartbeat of the technology, manufacturing and logistics sectors."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England in Warwickshire said it "warmly welcomes" the decision.

It said the development would have torn "a vast hole" in the West Midlands greenbelt and "dominated three local villages - Bubbenhall, Stoneleigh and Baginton".

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