Vodafone faces planning battle

Mobile phone company Vodafone, which last week said it planned to increase UK staff by 25% over 10 years, may have to move its headquarters from Newbury, Berkshire because of a lack of suitable sites. The increase to almost 9,000 employees across the UK is designed to cope with worldwide growth in digital mobile network […]

Mobile phone company Vodafone, which last week said it planned to increase UK staff by 25% over 10 years, may have to move its headquarters from Newbury, Berkshire because of a lack of suitable sites.

The increase to almost 9,000 employees across the UK is designed to cope with worldwide growth in digital mobile network traffic.

The expansion will require professional and administrative staff across the company, but Vodafone said it was too early to say how many telecoms experts it would need. Vodafone is drawing up a planning application for a new £60m world headquarters base for up to 4,000 staff on a showgrounds site off the A34 near Newbury.

It wants to consolidate its operations at the new site by 2001, but faces a battle as the site is not zoned for redevelopment. It has also been targeted by protesters who fear the 30-acre development would lead to more housing on ‘greenfield’ land.

Vodafone is to examine other sites at Basingstoke, Swindon and Reading.