The prospect of hundreds of jobs will sway the argument in favour of building an energy park on the green belt between an East Yorkshire market town and Hull, the leader of Hull Council has claimed.
Public consultation has been taking place over controversial plans to develop more than 200 acres of grassland, west of Hedon, which was once Hedon Aerodrome and is still owned by the city council.
The plans for the first 10 acres of the site where Amy Johnson made a triumphant return from her solo flight to Australia in 1930 include a University College, gas fired energy centre and data centre, and student housing and offices.
However the site is allocated as a key open area in East Riding Council’s local plan and more than 900 people have joined a Say No to Yorkshire Energy Park page on the social network site Facebook. Set up by local resident Tracy Lister, it flags up concerns about flooding, pollution and impact on wildlife.
But Hull Council leader Coun Steve Brady said opponents would find it hard to fight plans which would lead to hundreds of jobs.
Coun Brady said the city council - which has to save £30m from its budget by 2020 - expected to get long-term income from the park.
Coun Brady claimed the proposals, including enhancements to the green area and to local sports facilities, would “basically make Hedon nicer as a place.” He added: “I think opposition will find it really difficult when there are so many jobs, between 700 and 1000.”
However Mayor of Hedon Neil Black said resident would fight the plans “tooth and nail.”
Coun Black, who has floated the idea of turning the land into a country park, said people had unanimously opposed the idea of joining city and town in the 2014 referendum. “If you asked people today the same question they would give you the same answer,” he said. “We want it left as it is with no development.”
He said the jobs figures were “cloud cuckoo land”, and of those that were created only 10 per cent would come from south-west Holderness.
“I am 670th Mayor of Hedon - in 1346 there was someone like me walking round the town. You don’t want to lose that identity.
“People say why not develop it like Cottingham or Sutton, but Hedon is a town with a village atmosphere and that could be spoilt if we bring too much housing and industry into it. It is not just a field - it is what makes Hedon, Hedon. We will fight tooth and nail to retain that open spacebetween the city and Hedon.”
The developers are a consortium including Hull construction firm Sewell Group, Hessle-based telecoms company MS3 Networks and investors Chiltern Group.
They hope to have the planning application decided by 2017.
Their website states that the site is “an ideal location for businesses looking for power and data resilience, links to research and development, reinforced by an exceptionally strong transport infrastructure and access to a skilled workforce.”
A decision record published by Hull Council said they had agreed to extend an option on the land by another 15 months to “provide the investors with the confidence to progress a planning application.”
It said the council’s officers had met with developers, adding: “There is an increasing basis for confidence that the development will be progressed in accordance with the vision.”