By Kevin Unitt Wednesday 12 September 2012 Updated: 14/09 07:35
A MASTERPLAN to turn Stoneleigh Park into a Science and Innovation Park has got the green light.
The project by LaSalle Investment Management – which could eventually cost up to £50 million - would create 1,500 new jobs over the next 15 years.
Developments, still subject to approval of highways authorities, would see more than 60,000 sq ft of redundant buildings demolished to make way for a new visitors' centre, expanded cafe, new modern offices and a new equine zone which transforms the facilities for horses and riders.
Overall the floor space across the park would rise by nearly a quarter as the park incorporates a new UK headquarters for dairy equipment specialist GEA Farm Technologies, a new building for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and a new horse therapy centre.
Showground events would continue under the plan, as well as historic links with farming and education groups.
Proposed new roundabouts near the site would also aim to help improve traffic flow and divert much of the park's traffic away from Stoneleigh village.
Outline planning permission for the extensive changes were given the go ahead by Warwick District Council's planning committee at a meeting at Leamington town hall on Wednesday night (September 5).
A spokesman for LaSalle said the company wanted to complete the process of finalising the masterplan with all relevant agencies before giving full interviews.
But they added: "LaSalle has committed to spending up to £50 million in revitalising Stoneleigh Park and this master plan explains how we will do that.
“We will implement some long-held ambitions for the park - such as a national equine centre - at the same time as an expansion of just 22 per cent over 15 years.
“That will enable us to create space for around 100 more jobs per year and align the park better with the UK's successful knowledge-based economy.
“The park will remain focused on agricultural and equine activities and will continue to sit as sympathetically in its Green Belt setting as it does now."
La Salle took responsibility for Stoneleigh Park in December 2010, securing a 150-year lease.
Some concerns over the proposals were raised ahead of the meeting by Stoneleigh and Ashow Joint Parish Council, which said it acknowledged the park needed modernising and welcomed investment but said the plans intruded onto greenbelt land.
The district council planning committee, in granting the plans permission, said Stoneleigh Park was a 'unique facility of national importance' and while the development may affect greenbelt land this was outweighed by the economic and environmental benefits of the scheme.
LaSalle said a survey it had carried out on the plans, of local 1,200 households, found 82 per cent were in support.
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