Residents ‘let down’ after councillors approve extension of Raunds business park

Warth Park will be extended
Warth Park will be extended

People who campaigned against plans to extend a business park in Raunds say they feel let down by the councillors who approved them.

More than 500 people signed a petition against Roxhill Developments’ application to extend Warth Park.

Their MP Tom Pursglove agreed with them and presented the petition in Parliament.

Two consultations with people in the area both resulted in more than 90 per cent of those responding saying they were against the plans to develop two distribution buildings containing warehousing space with ancillary office, office and research and development space.

Raunds Town Council and Stanwick Parish Council also strongly opposed the plans, but despite all this opposition, the plans were approved by 11 votes to six at a meeting of East Northants Council’s planning management committee tonight (Wednesday).

Campaigners had protested before the meeting with placards, banners and t-shirts saying no to the development, as well as being joined by two sheep and a pony.

Due to the large turn-out expected at the meeting, a number of police officers were also there as a precautionary measure.

About 50 people packed into the public gallery to hear the councillors’ deliberations, while another 80 were able to listen to the meeting in two other rooms.

Nine people spoke about the plans, including people from Raunds, Stanwick, Roxhill Developments and Howdens, the firm which will occupy the new buildings.

Cllr Dudley Hughes spoke passionately about the impact the plans would have on Raunds and Stanwick, saying the landscape and vistas of both towns would be destroyed.

He said: “If this development goes ahead then Warth Park will be bigger than Raunds.”

He said it would have a ‘devastating effect’ on the people of Raunds and Stanwick, and added: “We should not approve this application, we should not allow this to spoil this area for everyone.

“It is concreting over our children’s and our grandchildren’s heritage, but this is our opportunity to stop it.”

Numerous councillors raised questions about the number of jobs it would create, the impact on traffic, noise and light, and the impact on Meadow Lane.

But Cllr Anna Sauntson said: “I don’t think we have sufficient grounds to refuse this application.”

Following the committee’s discussions, it was proposed that they did not have strong enough reasons to refuse the application and a recorded vote saw the plans approved by 11 votes to six.

Speaking after the meeting, campaigner Lyn Mura said they felt really let down by the councillors who approved the plans.

She feels they were too scared to refuse the plans at the risk of the decision going to an appeal, which could cost the council thousands of pounds if they lost.

And she said: “The people that we voted in to represent us, didn’t, and that really hurts.”