Expansion ‘will secure 100,000 jobs’

January 25 2019

MORE than 100,000 jobs have been secured by the approval of a huge new factory, it has been claimed.

South Gloucestershire councillors have unanimously approved the expansion of the National Composites Centre at the Bristol and Bath Science Park in Emersons Green, after being told that the area could lose jobs to France if the scheme did not go ahead.

The centre develops the next generation of materials for industry and councillors were told the extension was crucial to the development of new aircraft wings and would affect thousands of other jobs in the wider area.

The council’s strategic sites delivery committee was told concerns about the impact of the new building on the landscape and a nearby farm were outweighed by the benefits to the public.

Planing consultant Matthew Halstead, who represented applicant Bristol University, said: “The National Composites Centre is a fantastic success. It’s a global leader in composite technology and has created over 340 high-skilled jobs.

“It is the largest composite centre outside China and is critical to the local and national economy.The new workshop is the next chapter. It will facilitate the Wings of Tomorrow programme developing the next generation of aircraft wing.

“Many, many jobs will be at risk if this doesn’t proceed in South Gloucestershire.

“Everything should be done to insulate the region from the risk of downturn.”

Mr Halstead said the development should not be at the expense of proper planning but warned: “If planning is refused, Wings of Tomorrow will be lost overseas. It will likely go to France. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.”

There were concerns about the impact on the listed Newlands Farm, which had been protected from the National Composites Centre by a green buffer, and on the landscape.

But a planning officer told councillors that was outweighed by the “kudos” of the development, which a report to the meeting said will secure more than 100,000 jobs.

The extension will be built on the car park, and a replacement car park will be created on area described as scrubland.

The officer added: “If this was to be refused the potential impact on jobs is significant – they could be lost abroad. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.”

Proposing approval, Cllr Ian Boulton said the development would improve the look of the “scrubby” site. It was unanimously approved.

The extension will provide 4,823.5sq m – more than one acre – of workshop space and 1,334.5m2 of office space.

The Bristol and Bath Science Park is owned by South Glos Council and Bath University.