Basildon Council to rule on £23million Ford Dunton planning application

BASILDON councillors will decide tomorrow whether to approve a £23million extension to Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre.

The car manufacturer wants to extend the west wing of its Research and Engineering Centre in West Mayne.

Planning documents said the proposal would see workers from other Ford premises relocated to Basildon. It would also create apprenticeships for local youngsters.

Council planning officers have advised councillors to approve the proposal at a planning committee meeting tomorrow evening.

The Dunton Technical Centre – one of the largest research and facilities in the country – sits on 108 hectares of land and serves as Ford’s UK headquarters.

The proposed extension would cover almost two square kilometres and would house two new ‘test cells’. The cells are used to test engines and transmissions.

No objections to the proposal have been received, a planning report said.

Planning officers wrote: “The application represents an investment of approximately £23million by Ford to the continued research and development work on commercial vehicles that is undertaken at the technical centre.

“As part of this investment, employees will be relocated from other test facilities to Dunton and upskilled and retrained to operate the new facility.

“In addition, Ford invest heavily in their apprenticeship scheme, which offers advanced and higher apprenticeships in engineering, IT and finance.”

Tory councillor Phil Turner worked at Ford for 37 years until he retired in June 2019. He ordinarily sits on the Planning Committee but will miss the meeting as he is on holiday – although he said he would have recused himself anyway due to his link with the company.

He told the YA: “When you look at what’s going on globally with Ford, pulling out of other markets and completely restructuring, an investment like this in Basildon is nothing but absolutely fantastic news.

“It’s brilliant news for the local economy and local employment. I hope we will see employment rise and people from Basildon taking up the opportunities.”

Officers recommended councillors approve the proposal but make it subject to a number of conditions, including that development must commence within three years, bird boxes must be installed for affected wildlife, and local labourers must be used for the development.

The Planning Committee will debate the proposal and make its decision in a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, September 10) at 7pm at the Bas Centre.

Charles Thomson

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