JUL 00] WEATHER
Could Move To Leam
Met Office is eying a £100 million move to Leamington, but the
question is whether there is room in the town.
town is on the short list of 10 sites for a new home for the
Government weather agency that employs 1,200 people.
35-acre site is being sought, so all Meteorological Office operations
can be consolidated on one site. Leamington is up against the likes of
Shrewsbury, Norwich, Exeter and Cornwall to land the huge project.
criteria to find the favoured sites included good schools, road and
rail links, housing, land availability and potential for expansion.
The list is made up of upmarket market towns, to fit in with the Met
Met Office spokesman at the Berkshire base said that staying in its
present location in Bracknell has been ruled out:
buildings date back to 1961 and they are wearing out - there are
some structural problems so we are looking for a new site.
have been looking at desirable areas, and it is true to say we would
not be looking at an area that is deprived.
final decision will be announced this year and are definitely moving
from this site.
the new site is known, we can then find out how many people will
wish to move to the new town.”
would be created by the number of staff who would not move to the new
site. Leamington is about a 90-minute drive from Bracknell, and is one
of the nearest towns to the current HQ being considered.
relocation work started five years ago, and has really got going in
the 12 months with a shortlist of locations and contractors made
public, and the final choice to be announced in the Autumn.
should start in 2002 and followed by a year-long phased movement to
the new site from the current 10 locations in the Bracknell area.
Met Office is an agency of the Ministry of Defence and manages itself
as a business. The £100 million scheme will be paid for under a PFI
(private-finance initiative) where an outside group would own the
buildings and the Met Office would effectively be a tenant paying
list of 80 contractors has come down to eight including W S Atkins
(well-known in Leamington for their work on a £40,000 parking study),
Strata, Group 4, Logica and Mowlam who are assessing the sites.
District Council would be the planning authority for a Leamington-area
location. Although the project and jobs would be welcomed, there are
doubts whether there is such a huge vacant site.
Stanley, economic development officer, said:
is good news for the area, not just for Leamington but for the
Coventry and Warwickshire sub-region as a whole.
District will benefit from the expansion of Marconi in Coventry –
while Coventry and Warwickshire would benefit from the arrival of
1,200 jobs, if the Met Office were to come here.
is not just the jobs themselves but the demand created for suppliers
and houses and services across a wide area. This is big news for the
project sounds massive, probably twice as big in size as Conoco on
the Warwick Business Park, or as big as IBM which employs 1,000
people. There would be significant benefits from across the whole
will be doing all we can to help them search this area.”
there are no advertised vacancies for a 35-acre business in Warwick
District, where many incoming or expanding business complain there is
no room for them in the area where space is very much at a premium.
agencies are trying, with grants, to attract business to more deprived
areas of the Midlands, including the Black Country and north
Staffordshire, to arrest the decline of those industrial areas.
effort is needed to encourage development in Warwickshire where
unemployment, at about two per cent, is well below national and