Developers set new sights on homes and jobs for town

MASSIVE new business and housing developments are set to bring national employers and thousands of jobs to the Weston area

MASSIVE new business and housing developments are set to bring national employers and thousands of jobs to the Weston area.Plans have been revealed to build up to 1,800 homes and offices at RAF Locking and business and industrial parks on two sites on Weston Airfield.North Somerset Council and landowners Persimmon hope to bring white-collar employers to a Weston Airfield site near the Helicopter Museum to be called Weston Park.The development could attract more than 5,000 high, medium and low pay jobs to the area.In a second development, Persimmon is planning to refurbish and extend the Winterstoke Road industrial area.This would be phased to minimise disruption to existing businesses, some of which occupy buildings that are coming to the end of their lifetime.Plans for new buildings are being drawn up to accommodate heavy industry and warehousing.A new road is planned to run through the airfield, but it is not clear if this would be a single or dual carriageway.A planning application for both airfield sites, totalling 35 hectares, is expected by Christmas. Exciting plans are also afoot at RAF Locking. South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) wants to start work on buildings like schools, offices and leisure centres by next year to create hundreds of new jobs.The Government agency, which owns the site along with English Partnerships, has employed a team of architects to plan how the revamped site would look. It will include 62 acres of offices and other buildings.On Thursday night (Oct 12), a meeting was held between architects, residents and councillors, to discuss what should be built at the site.Andy Ward, one of the architects working for NEW Masterplanning, which is putting together the designs, said: "We could set up schools, leisure centres, offices or anything else needed on that site."There has already been contact from employers based elsewhere in the county who have shown interest in coming into the area and onto the RAF Locking site to invest."Because the planning inspectorate has ruled there should be no more major housing development until 2011 there will be an emphasis on employment opportunities first and then residential buildings."North Somerset Council's director of development, David Turner, said: "We have got to work with major landowners over the next five years to attract major employment development. There is serious interest being shown in all three sites."The South West Regional Development Agency is currently looking for a developer to bring the architects' plans to life at RAF Locking. In November a series of workshops will take place so that villagers can get more detailed information on how plans will develop.