Council backs down over Isham warehouse park refusal

A huge warehouse park looks likely to be built in Isham after Kettering Council backed down on their decision to reject it.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 9:09 am
Villagers fear the warehouse park will make traffic problems even worse.

There were jubilant scenes in the council chamber in April after a planning committee overturned officers’ recommendation - by six votes to one - that the 200,000 sq m scheme on land north of the village be approved.

They cited an “unacceptable highway impact” and a “detrimental effect on the people of Isham” as their reasons for refusal, despite no objection from the highways authority.

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

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Applicants DB Symmetry appealed the decision and a six-day planning inquiry was scheduled for May.

But Kettering Council has decided it will offer no evidence at the hearing as they believe they have no chance of successfully defending their case.

Isham parish councillor Graham Rait said he was disgusted by the decision and that it made a mockery of their planning committee.

He said: “They (councillors) voted six to one against this development.

“But when it comes to the fight the council has just given up.

“They’re not supporting their own planning committee, it’s disgraceful.”

The planning inquiry will still go ahead but with Kettering Council declining to contest their reasons for refusing the application it is almost certain DB Symmetry’s appeal will be successful.

Cllr Clive Hallam, who lives in Isham and represents the village on Wellingborough Council, said: “It seems it’s an officer-led decision, not a member-led decision.”

He added that he is hoping for more support from Wellingborough Council over the issue.

A briefing note sent to councillors from Kettering Council’s development manager Louise Holland, seen by the Northants Telegraph, said they had sought legal advice ahead of the hearing.

They say a planning bannister’s legal opinion was that they had “no prospects whatsoever” of defending their case.

The note added that, if they were to unsuccessfully defend their reason for refusal, it is a “virtual certainty” that a full award of costs would be made against them. This could excess £100,000.

Council officers were advised that the best case scenario would be to offer no evidence at the inquiry on the proviso that DB Symmetry don’t make a costs application.

A Kettering Council spokesman said: “Kettering Council’s position is informed by the legal advice received by the council following determination of the application.

“It does not, however, preclude the village of Isham from representing their own concerns with the proposal to the Planning Inspectorate when the public inquiry takes place.”

One of the biggest reasons villagers were against plans was the lack of a long-promised bypass, which is back at square one after £25m in funding was withdrawn.

Their fear was that vehicles coming to and from the site would travel on the A509 through Isham, which already becomes bottlenecked at peak times and busy even at lunchtime.

Cllr Greg Titcombe, who moved the motion to reject the original application, said the decision was disappointing.

He said: “As a whole we were in favour of the idea of it but what we did not want was vehicles turning left [out of the park] into Isham.

“The fact that there is no bypass, and there is unlikely to be one for some time, meant there would be a massive impact on the village and we felt we had to do something.”

It’s understood DB Symmetry has told Kettering Council the refusal resulted in a negative impact on their business with prospective occupiers at the park choosing to relocate elsewhere.

They have since made a new application on the basis that, should the council approve a new application, they could achieve a faster positive decision and minimise any further delay.

A document from Kettering Council said the new plans would have extra information about traffic management but the plans are not yet available to view online.

DB Symmetry have been contacted for further comment.