Cheshire East Council is being asked to back a masterplan which outlines how the Bentley Motors’ factory in Crewe could look in the future.
The development framework and masterplan, drawn up by Bentley Motors in discussions with the council, provides a platform to deliver a modern, advanced manufacturing operation in the future which will be more efficient, secure and productive and which could potentially grow and expand in line with the company’s ambitions.
The document underwent six weeks of public consultation, which ended on February 14, and included two drop-in sessions at Bentley Motors’ Pyms Lane HQ in Crewe. Now the amended development framework and masterplan is being put before cabinet on May 9.
The consultation and masterplan process has enabled Bentley Motors to better understand the implications of its proposed ‘campus’ at an early stage, so that any future plans are better informed and can minimise the impact on the local area.
A report by Frank Jordan, executive director for place at Cheshire East Council, recommends the document be endorsed ‘subject to concerns raised through the consultation process being considered as part of any future planning application, or other approval, submitted by Bentley Motors’.
Frank Jordan said in the report: “The Bentley development framework and masterplan has been through a comprehensive consultation process, which has highlighted a range of issues, which need to be taken into account by Bentley Motors if the company is to pursue its vison of a campus environment. As a result of the consultation, there have been changes to strengthen the framework.
“More respondents support than object to the vision of a campus and a substantial majority support the growth of Bentley Motors.”
A total of 369 formal questionnaire submissions were received in the consultation as well as 10 letters. In addition, local councillors held a local community meeting and submitted a written response to the consultation.
On the principles of the campus and growth of Bentley Motors, the consultation revealed:
● 70 per cent of respondents indicated they would support or strongly support the growth of Bentley Motors;
● 48 per cent of respondents supported the creation of the campus, while 39 per cent objected.
Submissions were broadly positive in supporting the growth of Bentley Motors. All comments have been reviewed and responded to in the consultation report and this has resulted in a number of changes to the development framework. These changes include:
● Additional clarity on the limited scopes of the masterplan process, to make it clearer that a further planning and highways approvals are required;
● Clearer information on the need for the proposed campus, to provide a flexible and adaptable space at Bentley Motors’ Crewe HQ and greater support for sustainable travel;
● Strengthening the information on the traffic issues raised, including extending the mitigation map into the Marshfield Estate to the south;
● Clear commitment from Bentley that they are working to minimise off-site parking and impact on surrounding neighbourhoods; and
● Recognition of the need for phasing any activity with wider works across Crewe.
Councillor Don Stockton, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Bentley Motors is of tremendous importance to the local, regional and national economies and so it has been important to have an opportunity to hear the opinions of local people and organisations.
“More than 4,000 people are employed directly by Bentley, which also provides many apprenticeship opportunities locally. It is Crewe’s largest single employer, accounting for more than £1billion of UK exports each year – so it is important we get this document right.”
The campus would locate manufacturing, design, research and development, engineering operations and boosted security in a single integrated site with ‘seamless connectivity’ to enable ‘the efficient flow of people, goods and services’.
The framework aims to set out the key design, development and planning policy considerations, which will be used in the determination of potential future planning applications relating to the site.
Bentley Motors’ aspirations for its expanded site would require the closure of parts of Pyms Lane and Sunnybank Road to the public. However, no decision has been taken on these proposals.
Any detailed applications relating to the campus or highways would be subject to further consultation before any formal planning decisions would be made.
The council’s household waste recycling centre at Pyms Lane is also within the long-term ambition for the campus. There are no plans to close this centre and any future change to the facility would have to be consistent with the household waste and recycling requirements of Crewe and would require a future approval and would also be subject to detailed consultation.
Most of the land identified within the campus ‘vision’ is owned by the council and any change would be subject to detailed future negotiations.