Jubilation as huge Isham warehouse park bid turned down

Protesters crammed into the Kettering Council chamber. NNL-180418-095538005
Protesters crammed into the Kettering Council chamber. NNL-180418-095538005

Village campaigners fighting against a huge warehouse park have secured a victory.

There were jubilant scenes at Kettering Council last night (April 17) as the planning committee refused plans for the controversial warehouse park proposed for the outskirts of Isham on land north of the A509.

It was a shock outcome for the 70-plus protesters who had packed into the council chamber, as Kettering’s planning officer had recommended the colossal 200,000 sq m warehouse scheme be approved.

But councillors decided to refuse the application on the grounds of an “unacceptable highway impact” and because it would have a “detrimental impact on the people of Isham”.

During a tense and rowdy meeting, speakers repeatedly told the planning committee the development must not go ahead until after the long-awaited Isham bypass is built.

Plans for the bypass have been in place for many years, but the millions needed to build the road have not been gathered by the cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council.

In a passionate speech, Isham parish councillor Barry Hobbs told committee members: “In our view should you see fit to approve this application the only reason will be that you have decided to prostitute yourself because of the income to be gained from this 76ft-high monstrous development, the effects of which would blight us and the surrounding area forever.

“As the bypass is not in place you must refuse the application.”

And Cllr Jim Hakewill, who backed the protesters, told the decision makers that the mantra has always been infrastructure, then jobs and housing, but in this instance it looked like the infrastructure was being ignored.

A report put before the planning committee stated that, if built, the development would have led traffic on the already busy A509 to increase by less than 10 per cent. However, this assessment was jeered from the public gallery with one woman crying out to the planning officer: “Try living in Isham. You will understand then.”

The meeting also heard fears that the development would cause the neighbouring villages of Pytchley, Broughton and Orlingbury to be used as rat runs as drivers tried to avoid the slow-moving A509.

Isham, which would be most affected by the development, is under Wellingborough Council’s control, but due to the development being part of the Kettering area the village would not have seen any mitigating benefits.

Spokesman for applicant DB Symmetry Peter Frampton told the meeting: “We are seeking to bring forward this development which will come forward in phases and eventually may provide some 2,800 jobs. This scheme is a big component of the growth strategy for north northamptonshire and policy compliant.”

Before voting, a number of planning committee members said they were not against the development but were concerned about the traffic impact on the villages.

Cllr Kelli Watts said: “I don’t think I can support the proposal without the bypass being in place. Surely for the people of Isham, Pytchley and Orlingbury it should be in place. Where are we exactly with the bypass?”

Kettering was set to receive huge sums in business rates if the development had been approved and there would have been a large number of jobs created by the scheme.

Developers had said they would give £3m towards road improvements, which would have included dualling the section of the A509 northbound between Isham and junction 9 of down the A14. There were also plans to create a new cycle path linking the warehouse park to Kettering.

Six of the seven councillors on the committee backed Cllr Titcombe’s motion to refuse the application.

Even if the plans had been approved the decision was due to be looked at by the Secretary of State.