Approval for industrial units by J11 of M40 despite concerns

An illustration of how the J11 scheme could look
An illustration of how the J11 scheme could look

Land by junction 11 of the M40 will soon see a collection of large industrial units after councillors backed the scheme on Thursday (May 30).

Permission was given for up to four 15m-high buildings with a total floorspace of 50,000sqm on the site off the A361 to the north of the roundabout, known as ‘Banbury 15’.

But Cherwell District Council‘s planning committee was split on the proposal.

Some were concerned about the possibility of the site being used for warehouses with low-paid and low-skilled jobs instead of the more attractive engineering businesses.

Cllr John Broad said while the site is allocated for industrial use, it should be used by ‘advanced engineering or knowledge-based industries’, not warehouses. He added that it would be ‘an eyesore’.

However Cllr Andrew Beere supported the plan as it will provide much needed jobs for Banbury residents. “It may not be perfect, it may not be wonderful, but we don’t live in a perfect world,” he said.

The original plan for a new service station was stripped down to just the business space, car parking space and access to the A361 after an overwhelming amount of opposition and rejection from the council.

Nevertheless, objections were made by surrounding parish councils, Banbury Civic Society, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and 38 letters.

Malcolm Patterson from Wardington council and the civic society urged the committee to reject the plan as it will bring more traffic than the A361 and J11 can handle and cause ‘rat-running’ in the villages.

The site will be made up of two buildings to the north and in the middle of the site, with a maximum floorspace of 33,110sqm, as well as up to two more to the south, with a maximum floorspace of 16,890sqm.

The site was meant to generate 1,000 jobs but this scheme is expected to create between 725 and 971 jobs, which the planning officer said was acceptable.

Conditions include the applicant providing £750,081 towards a highway improvement scheme to relieve congestion on Hennef Way and £100,000 to help improve bus services on the Daventry Road.

A representative of developers Monte Blackburn said the scheme would have a meaningful benefit to Banbury.

Cllr Colin Clarke, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “This is good news for the Banbury economy, with the foundations laid for creating hundreds of jobs.”

He added: “We are, of course, mindful of the impact that large commercial developments can have on traffic.

“It is therefore fitting that the details of access to the site and a substantial contribution to lessen congestion will be finalised before work on the buildings themselves begins.”