TWO sites in the area have been submitted as potential Investment Zones.
It follows the Government’s announcement on the new initiative aimed at attracting investment and unlocking development opportunities.
Warwickshire County Council has put forward four possible sites for consideration, including Wellesbourne Innovation Campus and West Midlands Gigafactory at Coventry Airport.
WCC say the zones have the potential to unlock new public and private investment and boost the county economy by more than £1.4billon a year, creating over 25,000 jobs, 450 new homes and 1.3millon sqare metres of commercial space.
Securing Investment Zone status is aimed at helping the further development of the technology campus at Wellesbourne, part of the University of Warwick, which has seen growth in recent years from automotive and future transport expansion. It is also a major centre for agritech and crop science.
For the Gigafactory site in Warwick district, becoming an Investment Zone could secure major investment in the new battery cell manufacturing facility – which is set to create some 6,000 jobs and which could be operational by 2025.
MIRA South Site – an advanced manufacturing site in North Warwickshire Borough and Judkins Quarry – a mixed use residential and commercial property site – in Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough, have also been put forward.
The zones would offer tax breaks and other incentives “to make it easier, quicker and cheaper for the private sector to do business” – helping to attract significant inward investment.
But Investment Zones have attracted some criticism from environmental campaigners who fear they could promote development at the cost of nature, a claim which Conservative-controlled WCC leader Izzi Seccombe disputes.
She said: “While the council is absolutely committed to driving economic growth and bringing investment and jobs into Warwickshire, this cannot be at the expense of the county’s overarching mission to protect the environment for future generations, while supporting the decarbonisation of the economy and of transport.
“The sites submitted provide a strong sectoral link around the future of automotive and the electrification of West Midlands and UK automotive.
“At this stage, we are making Expressions of Interest so there is a lot that remains to be done. Early indications are that we can work alongside partners to ensure that we maximise the many really exciting opportunities offered to the county in terms of growth, jobs, inward investment, bringing outstanding talent to the county and, as importantly, keeping it here. “But we will seek the creation of Investment Zones without compromising our commitment to the environment and driving the county towards net zero emissions by 2035.”
The county’s case to Government, which is expected to make a decision on the proposals in the weeks ahead, has been jointly developed by WCC, local councils and business leaders.
Coun Andrew Day, leader of Warwick District Council, where West Midlands Gigafactory is located said: “This breakthrough offer from Government will create a favourable climate to secure the £3.4billon in finance to deliver the West Midlands Gigafactory.
“This vital new facility will anchor our important automotive and future mobility supply chain, which already supports 50,000 research, development, and manufacturing jobs locally, as well many more jobs across the region. I welcome this bold initiative, which is just what we need to foster the right environment for step-change investment, making a significant contribution to our shared vision for a net zero carbon future.”
Coun Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford District Council, where Wellesbourne Innovation Campus is situated, said: “This is an innovation-led bid by one of the UK’s top research universities that should see the district reap the benefits of spin-out economic growth.
“This is a really exciting development for Stratford-on-Avon, strengthening the existing agriculture and engineering sectors but at the same time diversifying the local economy. It will establish a new high-tech innovation hub in the district that has real potential to sit at the centre of a much wider R&D eco-system.”