Residents fear living in the shadow of huge Priors Hall warehouse proposed for former quarry

The site was cleared last year - and now plans have gone in for a 45,000 square metre warehouse

Monday, 20th September 2021, 2:02 pm
A drone image shows the scale of the site, with Hobby drive at the top left and the Morrisons warehouse on the right. Image: Matt Bailey.

People living in Corby' s newest community have raised serious concerns over a proposed warehouse that they say will tower over their homes and could leave them living in its shadow.

Hobby Drive, where the average house price is nearly a quarter-of-a-million pounds, backs onto a former quarry next to the Morrisons distribution warehouse off Steel Road.

The land the size of more than 11 football pitches stood empty for many years, and had been naturally re-wilded, until it was suddenly cleared during lockdown last year. Now the owners MPB have submitted plans for a 45,000 sq m warehouse which will stand 17.4m high.

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A sketch of what the warehouse might look like if it is given planning permission

Hobby Drive resident Matt Bailey said: "The warehouse is going to be 280m long and 140m wide.

"They say it's 40m away from the closest houses but when you look at how high it's going to be, that's not a lot. The sun will actually sit behind the warehouse so some of the houses will literally be in its shadow.

"The landscaping is going to take 15 years to mature and the whole thing is just completely out of scale with the area and inappropriate for that site.

"It's going to be a 24/7 operation with 976 traffic movements a day."

The site, with Hobby Drive at the top, and Corby Business Academy and Priors Hall primary to the right of the picture.

The 8.9 hectare site is in the south eastern corner of the Rockingham Enterprise Area which is allocated as a key strategic location for new employment development.

It was a former iron ore quarry that was backfilled with steelworks waste during the post-steel clean-up of the 1990s. Planning permission, now expired, was granted in 1997 for an industrial park on the site.

The proposed building is 3.6 metres higher than the new Centrix warehouse being built on Phoenix Parkway and 2.4 metres lower than the next-door Morrisons warehouse.

The plans are being submitted by Barmach Limited, a firm owned by Simon Machen who is the planning director at MPB, the owner of the land.

Hobby Drive, where residents have paid an average of a quarter of a million pounds for their homes.

MPB bought the land from Morrisons for £2.4m in December 2019. A thousand trees were cleared from the site last September, displacing birds and wildlife, to the shock of residents. Although the site clearance was legal, Corby Borough Council intervened and stopped MPB from moving stone onto the land.

MPB did not respond to our request for comment, but a design statement submitted to planners said: "In terms of visual appearance, it is proposed that the building would be clad in panels that are graduated in colour that fade to their lightest shades at eaves level. Such an approach helps to break down the size and scale of the built form, making it less obtrusive within its surroundings.

"The illustrative layout shows a strategic landscaping buffer around the site, but particularly along the northern and eastern boundaries. Taking this into consideration.. it can be seen that the proposals will not result in any unacceptable adverse impacts upon the character and appearance of the area."

Out of 129 people consulted, two people have written to North Northamptonshire Council in support of the plans, although the validity of these comments have been called into question by other commenters. Seven people have objected.

One commenter says: "The submitted plan is completely out of context with the previously submitted outline plan. The site has always been marked for warehousing, but if you compare the original submission.. this has more appropriately sized buildings and a green buffer compared to the huge proposed building. This is a completely inappropriate development so close to residential buildings.

"Whoever is looking after managing the planning process should be able to apply this logic and common sense to this proposal. All local residents should be properly consulted.

"The council have taken 18 months to deal with the existing noise situation on the estate, and unless appropriate noise mitigation is put in place at the planning stage, this will become another impactful situation."

Others are concerned that many people have not been told about the proposals.

Another objector: "Increased vehicle pollution from the significant increase in HGVs around the proposed site where many of the footpaths and cycle ways for Priors Hall Park are situated.

"These footpaths and cycle ways give access for residents to surrounding amenities and areas but also for children who attend the two schools here. The Government are pushing towards healthier living and reduction in CO2 emissions, promoting the use of walking and cycling, how does this proposal fit with that initiative when we would be walking and cycling through increased pollution?

"What consideration has been given to light pollution? The proposed building is very tall and the land elevated in that location, the light pollution will impact many houses on Priors Hall Park.

"I note in one of the 'positive' comments that the site will bring work for people in Corby. Has any research been carried out in this area? Currently there are multiple warehouse facilities in the area who are bringing people in from London/ Leicester and other areas as there is a shortage of workers in the Corby area for this type of work."

Corby Business Academy have also commented on the application with concerns over safe pedestrian access to their site.

You can read the details of the application and comment on it here.