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Four Warwickshire sites submitted for consideration as Investment Zones

Published on Thursday, 27th October 2022

The names of the sites submitted by Warwickshire County Council as Expressions of Interest for consideration as Investment Zones have been announced.

The four sites across the county area put forward following a Government announcement on the new initiative aimed at attracting investment and unlocking development opportunities are: 

  • MIRA South Site – an advanced manufacturing site in North Warwickshire Borough, a southern extension of the highly successful Enterprise Zone MIRA Technology Park, Europe’s leading automotive and future mobility R&D campus.
  • Wellesbourne Innovation Campus – development of the successful technology campus, part of the University of Warwick estate, which has seen growth in recent years from automotive and future mobility expansion. It is also a major centre for agritech and crop science. 
  • West Midlands Gigafactory - Large sites at Coventry Airport and in its surroundings in Warwick District, with the primary objective of securing major inward investment in a battery gigafactory, and associated battery and automotive supply chain. It was submitted by WMCA in behalf of local partners, and was also included in the Warwickshire EOI. 
  • Judkins Quarry – a mixed use residential and commercial property site, with the potential to support local housing and employment need in Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough, including growth at MIRA South Site.

Investment zones are a new initiative which aim to attract investment and unlock development and economic activity. It is hoped that these zones will accelerate economic growth through public and private investment and deliver tens of thousands of new homes and jobs and support key industries to decarbonise supply chains. 

It follows a Government announcement that it was in discussion with 38 local and mayor combined authorities, including Warwickshire, on Investment Zones in specific sites within their area. 

If successful beyond the Expression of Interest stage, the zones have the potential to unlock new public and private investment and boost the county economy by more than £1.4bn a year, creating over 25,000 jobs, 450 new homes and 1.3m sqm of commercial space. 

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. 

Investment Zones have attracted some criticism from environmental campaigners who fear that they could promote development at the cost of nature, a claim which the Leader of Warwickshire County Council, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, is keen to repudiate, 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 Warwickshire County Council, local councils and business leaders. It concentrates Investment Zone sites in those areas with strong sectoral potential. 

Cllr Kris Wilson, leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, where Judkins Quarry is located, said: 

“We are working hard to bring investment and prosperity to our Borough to help make Nuneaton and Bedworth a great place to live, work and visit.

“We welcome this opportunity to extend additional support to the business sector at this challenging time for the world economy.

“We have identified a key area in Nuneaton and Bedworth which meets the very specific criteria of this government scheme and, with our county council colleagues and FCC Environmental, one of the UK’s leading waste and resource management companies already based in our area, aim to help maximise investment with this bid to the government Investment Zones scheme.” 

Cllr 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 £3.4bn 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.” 

Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon 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.”  

Cllr David Wright, Leader of North Warwickshire Borough Council, where the MIRA site is situated, said:

“North Warwickshire Borough Council has had a strong working relationship with Horiba  MIRA for over 10 years. In 2015 the Borough Council approached MIRA with a view to a strategic allocation in the North Warwickshire Local Plan in order to offer a wider variety of high value jobs in the Borough.

"We hope the bid will bring this key investment forward, whilst maintaining proper controls to ensure this high-quality development fits well into the area.”

Matthew Hayes, Estates Development Manager at FCC Environment, owner of Judkins Quarry, said: 

“FCC Environment is excited to be supporting Warwickshire County Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council to help bring additional investment into the area. The redevelopment of brownfield land at Judkins Quarry will not only bring with it much needed new housing, but also new employment space to help grow the West Midlands economy.”

James Edwards, Managing Director of Evans Randall Investors, development partner at MIRA Technology Park, said: 

“The launch of the government Investment Zones initiative comes at a key moment for MIRA Technology Park, with plans submitted for a major expansion which will allow large-scale manufacturing facilities to be developed alongside the existing, globally unique combination of R&D facilities, engineering services and test assets.

“This bid could help catalyse our ambitious plans for the site, attracting the very best global companies and creating 2,500 new jobs, consolidating MIRA Technology Park’s status as Europe’s leading automotive technology cluster.” 

Further expressions of interest across the West Midlands have been made by local councils and authorities in the region. Like Warwickshire County Council, in their submissions, the councils have stressed to Government that the introduction of Investment Zones must not be to the detriment of the financial resources that would have otherwise been available to them. 

They said the implementation of the zones would need to be subject to further work in respect to due diligence, assessments of financial risk and approval through the appropriate Governance structures. 

Further details can be found here.

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