The building of a ‘garden village’ on the former site of Long Marston Airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon and the creation of a ‘super’ district council will help to drive significant economic growth in south Warwickshire.
That was the message to a gathering organised by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce at the airfield to hear about the progress of both.
Work is well underway on the first 400 homes with the first residents expected to move in later this year.
A planning application has been submitted to Stratford-on-Avon District for a further 124 homes and plans being worked on for a third phase of 500 homes.
The site is one of 14 across the country that are being developed under ‘garden village’ principles, which means they will be self-contained with all the facilities required by residents on-site.
Led by Cala Homes and supported by Jonathan Thompson who is the Lead Land Agent for LMA, it will be developed over the next 20 years and will deliver 3,500 homes in total to help meet the expected demand for housing.
There will also be a 15-acre business park that will provide jobs, and a local centre anchored by a food store with a range of shops and facilities such as a community hall, medical centre, and a primary and secondary school.
The Chamber’s gathering also heard about a significant investment in the transport infrastructure in the wider area that would not otherwise be forthcoming without the airfield’s redevelopment.
Jonathan Thompson, who set up his own land and development company in 2017 and represents the Hodges family who have owned the airfield for over 100 years, told delegates: “LMA is a very good current example of how the development of a larger single site can stimulate significant levels of investment, which is what is happening as a result in south Warwickshire and the wider economy. This will benefit not only the local economy and local residents but also the wider region.”
Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, also spoke about how his council was on track to formally submit proposals to Government later this year to merge with Warwick District Council, with the creation of a super council covering a population of 300,000 expected in 2024.
“If you look at the West Midlands as a whole as ask where is the economic growth, you can safely say it’s in Solihull, Coventry, Stratford and Warwick, so putting the two districts together gives us a very strong engine for that growth.
“This is not just about finances, although that is not insignificant, it’s an opportunity to look at that bigger picture, and we’ve already started to look at a joint local plan which will have more focus on employment and industry than in our existing plans.
“What we have an ambition to do is to provide better quality and more effective services to our residents and businesses, who are important stakeholders in the transformation of local governance.”
Doug Squires, board member for Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Both the redevelopment of LMA and the creation of a single district council for south Warwickshire are hugely significant so it was good to hear how both could benefit the region.
“The Chamber has become a global brand that connects members at all levels with each other and policy makers, but it’s also important that we can continue to get businesses at local level out to hear about important developments that are happening like at Long Marston Airfield which has the support of the business community.”