Sir James Dyson’s secret base wins day as developer is pushed out
Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson has agreed that a buffer zone be put in place around his Wiltshire headquarters to stop industrial spies with finding out what his designers are up to.
The buffer zone to the south of his headquarters in Malmesbury will be a couple of hundred metres across and the firm has asked that no development or roads be allowed there, with the land left as green fields and inaccessible to the public.
The details emerged as Malmesbury became the first community in the West to publish its first draft of a Neighbourhood Plan, which will shape development over the next 15 years.
The plan has been drafted by local councillors and community representatives with Dyson, as the town’s biggest employer, involved too. Yesterday, just days after it was published, the draft was challenged by developers whose land has not been chosen for development, and Dyson joined with town councillors and residents in the fight.
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The public inquiry, which kicked off in Chippenham yesterday and is expected to last all week, is seen as a test case for the Government’s new planning policies, where there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development on green field sites, but communities can tailor that development with their own Neighbourhood Plans.
Developer Gleeson wants to build 180 homes on the northern edge of Malmesbury, not far from Dyson’s headquarters, but community representatives drawing up the plan have chosen a series of other sites for housing, including one just south of Dyson’s HQ.
Dyson joined the planning battle yesterday by registering as an interested party in the Gleeson public inquiry. The firm’s representative Nigel Whitehead told planning inspector Colin Thompson that it supported the plan being drawn up because it would create a buffer zone around the HQ, and help realise the firm’s ambition of creating a technology park next door where other firms linked to Dyson’s inventions set up.
Late last year, Dyson said it had sacked a Chinese engineer claimed to be working as a spy for one of its rivals, Bosch, and lodged legal proceedings against the German firm.
Gleeson’s barrister Mary Cook told the inquiry that in the developer’s view, Wiltshire Council had not demonstrated it had sufficient sites around the north of the county.
Stephen Sauvain QC, for Wiltshire Council, said the Government also wanted local people to have their say. “It would undermine and demoralise the process of forming a Neighbourhood Plan if this appeal was allowed,” he added.