Fury as woods earmarked for the chop to make way for Kettering warehouse park

The development could create 700 jobs - but environment campaigners say it is "preposterous"

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 5:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 9:48 am
Weekley Hall Wood. This stunning picture was taken by Dan Whitney.

A planned warehouse park on the edge of Kettering could create 700 jobs - but environment campaigners are furious as it would see part of a popular wooded area removed.

Buccleuch Property (Kettering) Ltd wants to build five warehouses and an industry unit on land off Weekley Wood Lane, near the Kettering police hub.

But plans show part of Weekley Hall Wood - an area loved by many for walking, running and off-road cycling - would be destroyed in the process. In total more than 40,000 sq m of woodland is planned for removal.

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An artist's impression of the site, as seen in the planning application

Jamie Wildman, who stood for the Green Party in Kettering in last year's general election, promised not to let it go without a fight.

He said: "Woodland loss on that scale is irreversible. It's colossal."

"If it comes to it, I will be there in front of the diggers."

The applicants say new woodland will be created to mitigate the loss of trees, adding that its impact would not be significant.

The proposed site layout.

But green campaigners say that, after a climate emergency was declared last year, the development should simply be built elsewhere.

Mr Wildman said: "I think it's preposterous that, at a time when Kettering Council declared a climate emergency, they can even be considering an application so destructive.

"The thought of a warehouse park going there and Kettering residents losing a place so important and unique is really saddening.

"Jobs are always a great thing but there is a more responsible way they can be created on brownfield sites."

The site is partly owned by the Boughton Estate and partly owned by Buccleuch Property. It was previously quarried and is now a mixture of mature plantation woodland, young plantation woodland and meadow grassland.

If approved the warehouses would total about 30,000 sq m with access from Weekley Wood Avenue by using the hamburger roundabout. There would be 400 car parking spaces with estimates of 700 full-time jobs and further indirect jobs.

A planning statement said: "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 1.31ha to be created on site and the further 3.06ha to be undertaken within the wider land ownership."

It added: "Overall, after the proposed embedded and additional mitigation measures have been put into place, the potential impacts during the construction phase will result in predominantly negligible impacts and minor adverse impacts. These impacts are seen as not significant."

A petition to save the wood created under 24 hours ago has already amassed more than 1,200 signatures.

One person to sign it said: "This is a beautiful part of our countryside. I have walked my dogs here for many years and see lots of wildlife, deer and woodpeckers to name a few, please do not build on it. Our Kettering community needs this space."

Another said: "There are more than enough empty warehouses around Northamptonshire. We don't need any more. What we need is trees and greenery and our countryside to be protected."

And another said: "This should not go ahead! I live just around d the corner and the level of development here is already too much. So much natural wildlife lives here and this should be preserved."

Anyone wanting to submit their thoughts on the plan to Kettering Council must do so here by April 29.

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