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David Cameron’s visit to McLaren’s factory last week to open its luxury car plant was aimed at emphasising the importance the government places on what’s left of Britain’s manufacturing industry, with McLaren a shining example of the new, hi-tech way forward for UK firms.  It is in this climate that McLaren has argued that its plan for a new applied technology centre across the road from its existing headquarters, picture above, should be agreed, even though it too is on green belt land. McLaren’s case is persuasive.  Its architecture-award winning, environmentally screened presence on the edge of Woking is a smart, prestigious antidote to the town’s otherwise vaguely naff image.  And in these days of soaring unemployment, an enterprise that talks of 300 construction jobs, 400 direct jobs, and 200 more subsidiary ones, should be encouraged. And yet … the planned new centre is also on green belt land, albeit not particularly attractive, and it will definitely add to traffic congestion in the area, and on a road that has seen two serious water main bursts, road collapses and disruptions in the last few years. One rule for McLaren, another for the rest of us? In this case, it seems, yes. Only the landing site of the Martians on Horsell common, which is of course preserved for the nation, can stop any further green belt encroachment in this area around Woking, I guess.

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