Campaign sees 20,000 say no to controversial Kettering warehouse plan

It’s hit another milestone
The march on Sunday. Credit: Si EppeyThe march on Sunday. Credit: Si Eppey
The march on Sunday. Credit: Si Eppey

The fight against plans for a controversial Kettering warehouse park has hit another huge milestone after 20,000 people voiced their concerns.

There was fury two years ago when Buccleuch Property (Kettering) Ltd put in a bid for six units off Weekley Wood Lane, leading to the formation of the Save Weekley Hall Wood group.

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The developers had planned to cut down more than 40,000 sq m of woodland, a plan which was dropped under the pressure a huge petition and concerns from local planning officers.

The march on SundayThe march on Sunday
The march on Sunday

The scheme has now been redesigned so the trees no longer have to be removed but campaigners say it would still destroy a meadow – and their petition against the plan has attracted its 20,000th signature.

Cllr Dez Dell (Green) said: “This is amazing news - how can the developers ignore the views of 20,000 people who do not want the destruction of the meadow for warehouses?”

Corby food and drink firm Symrise Limited have legally committed to a £20m facility at the site, which is partly owned by both Boughton Estates and Buccleuch Estates.

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Five other units could also be built, with the overall size of the site reduced from 430,000 sq ft to 350,000 sq ft.

Weekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam RileyWeekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam Riley
Weekley Hall Wood and wildflower meadow. Credit: Adam Riley

Plans say grassland clearance would be compensated with the creation of an equivalent area of species-rich grassland, adding that mitigation measures would mean a biodiversity net gain of 21.56 per cent.

Neil Finnie, director of Buccleuch Property, said: “We understand the interests of the local community and listened closely to their concerns.

"This has led to us making changes to the plans to take into account those concerns – crucially, the woodland area originally included within the development will be retained and the area can continue to be used by the local community.”

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Campaigners held a ‘march for the meadow’ on Sunday (May 1) with people walking through the town with placards.

Dr Siobhan Currie, from Kettering, said: “This petition and the protests highlight the depth of feeling about the wood and meadow - the amendments made to the main application do save some trees but the decision to pursue it ignores the views of 20,000 people who do not want any development at all on this precious area.”

The Kettering North area was designated for commercial use in the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy (2016). Campaigners say that, with the climate emergency, the designation should now be reversed.

They will be making their voices heard against a nearby smaller planning application on Thursday (May 5).

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Leather interior firm IM Kelly want to build a new production unit on part of a meadow which was previously cleared in 2018.

A decision on the application was deferred at a heated meeting last year which saw hundreds protesting outside.

Council officers are recommending the plan is approved – but campaigners believe there are strong ecological reasons to refuse it.

Save Weekley Hall Wood member Robert Dixon said: “We hope the planning committee will continue to look critically at this smaller application which we believe is something of a Trojan Horse for the larger main application.

"If the IM Kelly application is approved, the planning committee could find their hands tied when they come to consider the main application in due course.”

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