Thousands sign petition against proposed development of Wellingborough car park

Cllr Jon Ekins and campaigners who want to save the car park presenting their petition to Peter Bone MP
Cllr Jon Ekins and campaigners who want to save the car park presenting their petition to Peter Bone MP

Up to 5,000 people are expected to have signed a petition against the proposed development of a town centre car park before it is presented to Parliament.

Development of the Jackson’s Lane/High Street car park in Wellingborough will see hundreds of spaces lost from the town centre.

The Jackson's Lane/High Street car park

The Jackson's Lane/High Street car park

The site, which was first earmarked for development in 2006, will be made up of 85 houses and 29 apartments plus new roads and some car parking space.

However, people who live and work nearby are unhappy with the proposals and a petition launched in opposition to the plans has attracted nearly 5,000 signatures.

Cllr Jon Ekins, who represents the Swanspool ward, was joined by campaigners to raise their concerns with Wellingborough MP Peter Bone on Friday and hand over the petition which he is due to present in Parliament later this week.

Cllr Ekins said the car park is a well-use amenity which they don’t want to lose, and added: “For our MP to represent us in Parliament is an honour.”

More than 4,200 people have already signed the petition, and this figure is expected to reach 5,000 by the time Mr Bone presents it in Parliament.

With 5,000 signatures, that represents 5.5 per cent of the borough and 8.5 per cent of the town who want to save the car park.

The percentage who have signed the petition is higher than the one per cent from Wellingborough who took part in the recent consultation about unitary proposals for Northamptonshire.

Cllr Ekins said the campaigners aren’t against some form of development on the site, but added: “This isn’t the right development for the people of Wellingborough.

“We need parking in the north of the town.”

The campaigners believe the loss of so many parking spaces would have a huge impact on nearby businesses, the United Reformed Church as well as people coming into the town to shop or use facilities in the area.

And with Tresham’s Wellingborough campus due to re-open to students in 2020 following multi-million pound improvement works, they fear the north of the town won’t have the parking it needs.

Questions have also been raised about the need for housing here when major housing developments are planned elsewhere in the town, including at Stanton Cross and Wellingborough North.

Campaigner Cheri Whitehead said: “The people of Wellingborough are very upset that they want to close this car park.

“We have had no problems getting signatures.”

Ernie is fighting to save the car park, which offers free parking, and said: “It’s the heartbeat of the town.”

Speaking after meeting the campaigners, Mr Bone said: “I am happy to represent the views of my constituents.

“This is one of the largest protests that I have had to deal with in my period as an MP and I am delighted to present the petition to Parliament.”

Speaking earlier this year following a public meeting about the site, leader of Wellingborough Council Martin Griffiths said it was ‘always my intention as chairman of the council’s resources committee to recommend that this decision on the sale of the land should be referred to full council.’