Plans for a new research and development facility at a former Hampshire shipbuilding site has been given the go-ahead by civic chiefs despite strong opposition from local residents.
Southampton City Council’s planning committee debated plans by renewable energy giant GE last night to open a new research, design and development hub for renewable technology on the former Vosper Thorneycroft site in Woolston that could create up to 250 new jobs.
The proposed plans include a facility dedicated to renewable technology which would include research, testing and the development of wind turbine blades and other renewable technologies such as onshore and offshore wind and hydropower.
The facilities which consist of one large-scale building would create 100 highly skilled engineer and technician jobs and 150 supply chain roles.
However, more than 100 residents have said that the plans would increase noise pollution and late-night disturbance.
Hayley Burgess, of Centenary Quay, said: “This huge monstrosity will be right in front of my lounge and will have an effect on my quality of life.
“I will not be able to live here anymore if this is built.”
The City of Southampton Society added the approved scheme would be a blight on the River Itchen for the next 100 years.
Councillor Warwick Payne, who represents Woolston on the council said: “My initial reaction when I find out about schemes like this would be to tell me more about them.
“However with this particular project, I have doubts and what has triggered this is the 126 objections from residents which signifies something here is not quite right.
“Woolston will now receive more jobs and investment but at a cost of upsetting scores of residents who wrote into to object to the larger facility.
“My hope was that the opposing sides could get around the table and agree a compromise that worked for everyone but now that opportunity seems to have been lost.”
However, Councillor Simon Letts, leader of the council said that the investment by GE would be positive for the local economy, bring high-skilled engineering jobs for the city and our future.
He added that the proposed development site had always been allocated as a site for job creation not for residential homes but understood the concerns that the residents had.
Representatives from GE said that the development will cement Southampton’s place as the centre of composite excellence and will be another important step in GE’s strategy of renewable energy investment in the UK.
A spokesperson added: “Woolston is the company’s preferred location among a number of international locations based on a number of key factors which include an excellent supply base, and an available pool of highly experienced staff at all levels.”
The proposed scheme was a much bigger version of a previous plan for a 24-hour wind turbine manufacturing plant on the same site which as previously reported was granted planning permission in April.
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