Latest Group Lotus expansion plans approved

PUBLISHED: 08:59 07 April 2011

Group Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar.

Group Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar.

Group Lotus has secured approval for the next stage in a raft of improvements set to bring 500 new jobs to its Hethel site.

Members of South Norfolk Council’s planning committee unanimously voted in favour yesterday of proposals to extend its existing production facility. Their decision follows plans for the construction of new motorsport and chassis engineering buildings at its headquarters, which were also given the green light by the committee last month.

The latest application asked for the part demolition, extension and upgrading of the production building, resulting in a net floor space increase of 6,474 sqm.

The sports car company has plans to manufacture five new Lotus models unveiled last year, although it is understood that the firm is still awaiting a decision over whether it will be awarded £40m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund for the expansion.

It is expected that the new production building will generate 150 new jobs alone.

No objections in principle to the plans had been received by South Norfolk Council, although Bracon and Hethel Parish Council had raised concerns about the potential for noise pollution if the improvements resulted in further use of the site’s test track.

District councillor Nigel Legg, who represents the Hethel area, said there were also some worries about the impact of the additional workforce on the local road network which should be investigated, but added: “Broadly speaking I think residents are supportive of Lotus and what they want to do, particularly in terms of employment.

“There are concerns about the potential noise which I believe the developers have told us at informal meetings will actually be addressed and the new building will likely have better sound insulation and so forth.”

Councillor Leslie Dale added: “I think we should welcome the Lotus application. It’s a way of solidifying the company on the site if it gets the money it wants and will welcome hi-tech employment.”

stephanie.brooks@archant.co.uk

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