A controversial mega warehouse complex on greenfield land in the east of Corby is recommended for approval by planning officers despite being against the town’s local plan and having hundreds of objections lodged against it.
Residents in nearby Stanion, which is nearest to the proposed development at the Cowthick Plantation, say the employment park being proposed by Corby’s serial developer Mulberry Development Ltd, will cause major traffic and road safety issues and create noise problems.
More than 200 letters of objection have been registered against the application and the parish councils of Stanion, Brigstock, Weldon, Islip, Sudborough and Woodford as well as neighbouring local authority East Nothamptonshire Council have put in strong objections to the scheme.
Concerns have also been raised about the loss of woodland at the plantation and the damage the development would cause to local wildlife.
Corby Council’s planning officers say that although it is a difficult choice to make, the jobs that will be created by the logistics park outweigh the loss of the positive features of the site.
In a report to be discussed at a virtual meeting on Tuesday (June 23) the planning officers say: “Overall there is a clear quantitative and qualitative need for the development given the shortfall of available, attractive and deliverable employment sites for the logistics development to meet policy requirements and address market demand.
“Moreover, if Corby is to compete economically at the sub-regional level it is important that it capitalises on its locational advantage to attract investment and grow the economy.”
They add: “Officers acknowledge that the building of a logistics proposal on the subject site results in some difficult choices, but taking all factors into consideration with this application, it is considered that the over-riding socio-economic benefits of providing future jobs in the magnitude offered have been demonstrated to outweigh the loss of the site and any negative aspects.”
The 1.62 sq km development, which has been on the horizon since 2018, would sit opposite the Midland Logistics Park across the A43 from the former Stanion Lane Plantation. Altogether a colossal 4.3m sq ft of employment space would be created and a potential of thousands of jobs.
The southern end of the site includes Cowthick Plantation, a woodland area including mature popular, cherry, maple and sycamore trees. The north of the site is bounded by the Weldon landfill tip and recycling centre and to the southwest of the site is the fircroft park lorry park and service area which has been granted planning permissions.
Part of the site is former British Steel quarry land. Access to the park would be from a new roundabout on the A43.
The planning officers are at odds with the council’s local plan officers. The local plan does not support the development as it would result in ‘the loss of a sensitive site in open countryside’ and concludes the negatives outweigh the benefits.
They say: “Land at Geddington Road is not supported in terms of planning policy. It would result in the loss of a sensitive site within the open countryside, whilst resulting in an over-supply of employment land within the borough.”
Northamptonshire County Council’s ecologist has also expressed concerns as the site has large great-crested newts, and is also an important site for meadow pipit, lapwing and dormouse.
Northern Northamptonshire’s joint planning unit has also said the development feels incongruous to the surrounding area and is not landscape led.
The Local Highways Authority, Anglian Water and Northamptonshire Police do not have any objections to the development.
The planning meeting will be hosted online at 7pm on Tuesday (June 23).