“If this goes ahead, it’s goodnight Watnall”

Campaigners, led by Darren Warner (back, right), outside the proposed site for the firm's new headquarters.
Campaigners, led by Darren Warner (back, right), outside the proposed site for the firm's new headquarters.

Angry campaigners have predicted the death of Watnall if a controversial planning application in the village is given the go-ahead.

Aero Fabrications, currently based on the Common Lane Industrial Estate, wants to build a huge, new industrial unit and offices close by on a near-nine acre stretch of agricultural land off Main Road.

The company says the building is badly needed to cater for its remarkable growth in recent years and to create much-needed local jobs.

However, campaigners, led by the Greasley and District Civic Society, vehemently oppose the development because it would be on Green Belt land and turn the village into an eyesore.

“If this goes ahead, it will be goodnight Watnall,” said the society’s acting chairman, self-employed builder Darren Warner, 52, who has lived in the village all his life.

“It would sit in the middle of the village and have a huge impact on the area. It is completely the wrong location. It would not be your average industrial unit. It would be like an aircraft hangar, and the plan is to build a new road leading to the site as well.

“We don’t oppose the expansion of the company, and we welcome the creation of skilled jobs, giving people proper employment and wages. But we object to the location.

“This development would be too heavy a price to pay for the village, especially for local people who have laid down their roots here. There are plenty of other industrial sites available where the firm could re-locate.”

Aero Fabrications, which manufactures parts for the aerospace industry and exports all over the world, insists the new unit is essential to link up with its current plant. At present, it is having to lease floorspace three miles away at Moorgreen, which necessitates many trips a day between the two sites, damaging the firm’s efficiency.

It says customers are already being put off by the company’s lack of room, and insists it cannot move elsewhere because of regulatory protocols within the aerospace industry that would cause restrictions and delays.

However, Mr Warner wants the government, via Broxtowe MP Ann Soubry, to step in and fast-track a switch to a more suitable site.

He is also urging everyone in Watnall who is against the scheme to send their objections to Broxtowe Borough Council, which is expected to next discuss the application later this month.

AERO Fabrications, established in 1982, says it has expanded by a staggering 350 per cent over the last five years and invested £5 million in its current headquarters at Common Lane, Watnall.

It has created more than 80 new jobs over the last three years, including taking on apprentices, and now employs 187 people, 95 per cent of whom are from the local area.

The firm says its orders are at an all-time high and expects 20 per cent more growth over the next two years, without even taking on any new contracts, and that could mean an additional 30 jobs.