Kettering woods saved from the chop - but campaigners vow to fight revised warehouse plans
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Swathes of woodland will no longer be cut down for a controversial Kettering warehouse scheme – but campaigners say they’ll continue to fight new plans.
There was fury two years ago when Buccleuch Property (Kettering) Ltd put in a bid for six units off Weekley Wood Lane, earmarking more than 40,000 sq m of trees for the chop.
A huge community campaign – Save Weekley Hall Wood – was launched with walks and noisy protests over building on surrounding green spaces.
Under the pressure of hundreds of objections, a petition with almost 20,000 signatures and concerns from local planning officers the applicants have redesigned the scheme so the trees no longer have to be removed.
But campaigners say the plans remain unacceptable as they would still see the loss of a meadow and popular walking routes.
Save Weekley Hall Wood member Robert Dixon said: "The fact that Buccleuch are now trying to reduce the negative impact of their development is testament to the strength of local people making their voices heard.
"However, they've clearly not heard us loud enough.”
Plans have revealed Symrise Limited - a food and drink firm based in Corby – have legally committed to a new £20m bespoke facility at the site, which is partly owned by both Boughton Estates and Buccleuch Estates.
Five other units would also be built if approved, with the overall size of the site reduced from 430,000 sq ft to 350,000 sq ft.
A large wooded area would no longer be removed from the site’s eastern edge, with only a small number of trees removed for a walkway/cycleway to the west.
Plans say the clearance of grassland is to be compensated with the creation of an equivalent area of species-rich grassland, adding that mitigation measures would result in a biodiversity net gain of 21.56 per cent.
An environmental statement said: “The potential environmental impacts of the construction phase of the proposed development have been considered and all controls or measures to mitigate these effects are in line with current environmental standards and legislative requirements.”
But campaigners say the revised plans do not go far enough.
Cllr Emily Fedorowycz (Green), who represents the nearby Clover Hill ward, said: "The wildflower meadow is just as valuable and has its own biodiversity.
"It’s good that they have taken the woods out of the plans but people do not want the warehouses here.”
Fellow Green councillor Dez Dell said the warehouses are completely unnecessary.
He said: “Access to nature saves the NHS billions a year - protecting and investing in nature is something we have been failing to do for far too long. Weekley Hall Wood is where Kettering draws the line.”
Grace Siddington, a teacher at nearby Glendon Farm Montessori and Forest School, said: “It might have been allocated for building a long time ago, but times have changed and the plans need to adapt to fit what people need now.”
The Save Weekley Hall Wood group are planning a ‘March for the Meadow’, starting at Meadow Road Park at 1pm on May 1, followed by a forum at Kettering’s Market Place.
Anyone who wants to have their say on the updated plans can do so by clicking here. A decision could be made next month.