Campaigners fighting against Kettering warehouse park plan launch 'double your money' final fundraising push

L-R Dez Dell, Martin Toms, Frankie O'Dowd, Paul Stinchcombe KC, Martin CrookL-R Dez Dell, Martin Toms, Frankie O'Dowd, Paul Stinchcombe KC, Martin Crook
L-R Dez Dell, Martin Toms, Frankie O'Dowd, Paul Stinchcombe KC, Martin Crook
They need another £10,000 to be represented at a planning inquiry

Campaigners who are in a ‘David and Goliath’ battle against a Kettering warehouse plan have launched a ‘double your money’ initiative for their final fundraising push.

The Save Weekley Hall Wood (SWHW) group was set up in 2020 to fight a bid from Buccleuch Property, the development company of the Duke of Buccleuch, to build on land near Weekley Hall Wood which would see the loss of a meadow and walking routes.

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Later this month a planning inquiry will begin, which will decide the fate of the controversial planning application after a three-and-a-half year fight and the campaigners need a total of £34,000 to be legally represented at it. It was originally thought the fees would top out at £30,000, but extra work on statements and other steps have been necessary.

SWHW campaigners have already raised £24,000 towards legal fees – thanks to the generosity of local people and sales of calendars, T-shirts and merchandise – and now all donations to the campaign will be doubled until November 11 in a final push.

Three generous supporters of the campaign have agreed between them to double up to £3,000 worth of public donations made during this week only. Anyone who this week donates into the campaign’s online crowdfunder, or directly into the campaign’s bank account or who sends a cheque to the campaign team, will have their money doubled by these donors – Dez Dell, Robert Dixon and Martin Toms.

Robert said: “We have a great legal team working for us, led by London law firm Harrison Grant Ring, who are helping the Wellingborough Walks campaign and who also represented the community group in Plymouth which took legal action after 110 trees were covertly felled by the city council earlier this year.

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"We have also been very fortunate to secure the services of Paul Stinchcombe KC, who will be representing us at the public inquiry. We would be completely lost with these experienced professionals but of course a good legal team costs money. Even though they have reduced their fees to help us out, we are still short of what will be needed to pay them.”

Dez said: “I was going to donate some money anyway but have been waiting to see what was needed nearer the end, so when Robert and Martin said they were also happy to contribute to the cause, I came up with this idea to try and encourage donations from more people.

“I’ve worked hard on the campaign for Weekley Hall Wood and meadow and I know I have to do everything I can to try and save this area for future generations to enjoy, so I really hope we can raise the amount needed to present the strongest possible case to the Government inspector.”

Martin added: “Members of the team have donated hundreds of hours to fight for the wood and meadow, and we three are lucky enough to also be able to put some money into the fund as well.

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"It is so worth it as the nature at Weekley Hall Wood doesn’t have a voice, so we must be that voice. We owe it to the wildlife to do as much as we can to save their space.”

In August we reported that the decision on the planning application had been taken out of North Northamptonshire Council’s (NNC) hands, with a Government-appointed inspector ruling on it instead, after the developers said NNC had taken too long to approve or reject it. Correspondence from NNC, seen by the Northants Telegraph, said that, at this stage, permission would have been refused for a ‘number of reasons’ had they been in a position to determine the application.

Donations can be made via the campaign website, via BACS to Save Weekley Hall Wood, sort code 16-58-10, account number 21448183 or by cheque made out to Save Weekley Hall Wood and sent to 38 Waverley Road, Kettering, NN15 6NT. The final figure raised as a result of this initiative will be announced next week.