Controversial Isham warehouse park plans set for green light

The huge site, with Weetabix and Morrisons to the east.
The huge site, with Weetabix and Morrisons to the east.

A second controversial bid to build a huge warehouse park on the edge of Isham looks set for the go-ahead.

DB Symmetry’s 200,000 sq m scheme, which could create 2,800 jobs, has been recommended for approval by Kettering Council planners next week.

Traffic in Isham backs up at peak times.

Traffic in Isham backs up at peak times.

It’s the second time council officers have suggested the plans for land north of the A509 be approved but just under a year ago there were jubilant scenes when councillors rejected them by six votes to one on the grounds of an “unacceptable highway impact” and because it would have a “detrimental impact on the people of Isham”.

The developers appealed against the decision and there was outrage when the council backed down before Christmas and decided it would not contest the appeal because they felt they had ‘no chance’ of defending their case and could have to pay £100,000 in costs if they lost.

In a bid to speed up the application process they put in new, largely unchanged, plans which will be decided by a planning committee on Tuesday (March 19).

Isham parish councillor and bypass campaigner Graham Rait said: “Considering the original plan was thrown out by a six to one majority, and considering the second application is virtually the same as the first, it will be extraordinary if the committee approves this because nothing has changed.

Development Land: Burton Latimer/Isham: Land off A509 between A14 and railway/river near Weetabix factory earmarked for development''Tuesday September 12 2016 NNL-160916-200316009

Development Land: Burton Latimer/Isham: Land off A509 between A14 and railway/river near Weetabix factory earmarked for development''Tuesday September 12 2016 NNL-160916-200316009

“Elected councillors have said, for good reason, no, and unelected officers have instructed them not to.”

Mr Rait said he fears the new plan is a done deal after the council’s position on the appeal.

But he said he still harbours hopes that councillors will “do the right thing”.

He said: “We are very much hoping that they will stand up and say nothing has changed.”

The packed council chamber at a meeting last year.

The packed council chamber at a meeting last year.

A report set to be discussed by councillors said, with plans for a bypass at a standstill, the developers would have to make sure a 1km stretch of the A509 is dualled between the site and the A14 prior to the first unit occupation.

There would also be a 3km cycle path/footpath running across Junction 9 of the A14 and highways works on the A509’s junctions with Station Road (introducing traffic lights) and Finedon Station Road, making total contribtions of about £6m.

DB Symmetry have also created a HGV management strategy outlining the routes HGVs should and shouldn’t take to and from the site and how they will monitor and enforce it.

But Isham Parish Council say this is not enough.

In their objection, they say it will worsen traffic problems in the village and that the development will cause disruption. They say that the number of estimated vehicle movements from the development has been vastly underestimated and that DB Symmetry should provide a ‘substantial contribution’ to a bypass instead.

They also claim that Isham will not see any benefit from Section 106 money as it is in the Wellingborough district, but the land is in Kettering’s despite being 500m from the village.

Villagers also say the HGV mitigation plan is unenforceable and the Station Road traffic lights plan goes against previous highways objections.

Letters of objection were also received from 80 residents. Concerns were also raised by Wellingborough Council and Pytchley Parish Council.

Northamptonshire County Council’s highways team said they had no objection subject to conditions.

Part of the land is owned by Northamptonshire County Council but Kettering Council rejected claims this led to a conflict of interest in their comments on the plan.

Thirty-seven letters of support were received from addresses in Corby, Wellingborough and Kettering saying that the proposal would benefit the local economy and attract new businesses and create jobs.

DB Symmetry have previously told Kettering Council that their decision to refuse the development, which is almost double the size of the Roxhill site off Junction 10 of the A14, resulted in a negative impact on their business with prospective occupiers at the park choosing to relocate elsewhere.

The new plan will be decided at a meeting starting at 6.30pm on Tuesday in the Kettering Council chamber.

Almost 100 people packed the chamber last time and Isham Parish Council urged villagers to turn up en masse again.

If the plan is approved the Secretary of State will have the option to call it in.