A major Storrington firm’s expansion plans have been approved unanimously by councillors.
Tesla Engineering, which is based off Water Lane and employs nearly 300 people, manufactures electromagnets for particle accelerators and gradient coils for MRI scanners.
The firm’s planning application for two new industrial buildings so it can employ an extra 75 to 100 people was approved by Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee South on Tuesday (August 15).
Mike Begg, managing director of Tesla, said: “We like the site, we are committed to it, and we do not want to move.”
John Blackall (Con, Chanctonbury) urged members to support the application, adding: “This is the type of business that we need locally as well as nationally.”
Fellow local members David Jenkins and Philip Circus, spoke in support, but the former did argue in favour of a balancing pond to mitigate any flood risk .
Meanwhile Mr Circus said: “I remember going with the chief executive to visit Tesla’s existing operation and we were very impressed.
“It’s not just a company with a local reputation, it’s a company with a national and international reputation.”
Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) described it as a ‘privilege to have it in our midst’, adding: “I think this is an amazing opportunity for the district.”
He continued: “It’s a no-brainer that we should be supporting this application 100 per cent.”
Although the site was greenfield land, Mr Donnelly said ‘to make an omelette you have to crack eggs’.
Mitigation measures to address air quality in Storrington were highlighted by Paul Marshall (Con, Chantry), who ‘wholeheartedly supports the application’.
Officers explained that £30,000 would be secured towards two schemes, one to divert lorries away from the high street, and another to stop heavy goods vehicles turning movements at the mini-roundabout at Manley’s Hill and School Hill.
Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of the council, did raise some concern about pedestrian safety on the other part of Water Lane they were ‘shunting all the traffic down’ as it did not have a footpath.
But he added: “I think we would be really very silly to turn this down.”
Mr Circus explained that as county councillor for Storrington up until May this year, he had raised the need for more pavement on the stretch of Water Lane with officers at County Hall, but there was ‘no enthusiasm’.It was explained how Tesla had been in the village since 1973 and the new buildings would meet the company’s future growth requirements for the next 15 to 20 years.
The application includes a storage unit, as well as parking for cars, bicycles, motorbikes, and HGVs.
The company’s last expansion to the east of Water Lane was approved by Horsham District Council in 2013.