Thousands say no to East Midlands warehouse development

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More than 6,500 people have objected to the development of a warehouse scheme in Kettering, Northamptonshire.

Buccleuch Property had put in an application to Kettering Council for five warehouses and a manufacturing unit at its Kettering North site totalling 432,870 sq ft in February this year. The warehouses would range in size from 35,000 sq ft to 120,000 sq ft. With proper pre-planning conversations having already taken place and the fact that the scheme backs onto Kettering Business Park, the developer should have had a relatively straight forward planning run.

However, the scheme proposals include the removal of 9.88 acres of woodland, which is accessed via a public right of way that happens to bisect the site – it is an extremely popular walk for local residents.

The application went in on 3 March 2020 and by 19 April 2020, a full blown campaign to stop the development known as Save Weekley Hall Wood – featuring campaigners from Extinction Rebellion, the Green Party, Labour, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Kettering Eco Group was in full swing with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as a Change.org petition.

With planning committee meetings all now online it is no surprise that the campaign against the development is also being battled out online as well.

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Campaigners are encouraging those that sign the petition to also object direct to the council via its online planning portal. A deadline for objections has been extended for a third time, to 21 May 2020.

The Save Weekley Hall Wood campaigners said the Covid-19 emergency had highlighted the “deep need” to preserve natural resources.

The site is partly owned by the Boughton Estate and partly owned by Buccleuch Property.

The existing land use is a mixture of mature plantation woodland, young plantation woodland and meadow grassland. The site was previously quarried for ironstone in the mid-20th Century. The site was restored to its current condition in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Regarding the removal of the woodland the developers noted in the planning statement: “Where woodland close to the development boundary is likely to be lost, targeted native shrub planting will be utilised.

“This will create a natural barrier between the development and the woodland to reduce human impact on these areas as well as creating foraging and commuting habitat for species. To further reduce the potential impact of the proposed development during the construction phase, woodland creation at a 1:1 basis is to be undertaken, with 3.23 acres to be created on site and the further 7.56 acres to be undertaken within the wider land ownership.”

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