• Marc Fegarsky

Huge Rothwell warehouse park planned - but councillor fears more countryside destruction

Updated: Jan 13

Plans are likely to be submitted in 2023

A piece of land on the edge of Rothwell could be transformed into a massive warehouse park - but a councillor fears it will see more of our countryside destroyed unnecessarily.

The 107-acre site just off Junction 3 of the A14 - bigger than 50 football pitches - has been bought for an undisclosed sum by developers Harworth Group plc.

They hope to submit a planning application in 2023 for up to 1.5 million sq ft of industrial and logistics space, a move which could create thousands of jobs.

But with greenfield land torn apart for a similar development near Isham, a community fight to stop warehouses being built at Kettering's Weekley Hall Wood, and the borough's Cransley Park and Segro Park yet to be completely filled, Rothwell councillor Jim Hakewill (Ind) says he sees no need to lose more green space in the Kettering district to warehousing.

He said: "It seems that buying land is like buying shares.

"We have so many warehouses locally and it just seems to me that we are destroying much of the countryside we desire, often to see empty warehouses.

"Rothwell already has industrial development at Rothwell North and we are looking forward to seeing jobs created by businesses there.

"Until that is developed and running I see absolutely no need to destroy this piece of countryside by a developer just taking a chance on getting permission."

A basic plan drawing suggests it could have eight individual units and could be served by the Harrington road, with the creation of a new roundabout in the middle of the site.

Further details are unlikely to become clear until plans are submitted or a full consultation is launched by the developers.

The number of jobs the scheme could create has not been confirmed. Earlier this week we reported that the lack of new European workers because of Brexit was starting to take its toll on nearby Corby's warehousing industry.

If the planned development went ahead and gained approval it could leave North Northamptonshire Council sitting on a potential gold mine.

In 2016 the former Kettering Borough Council bought two plots of land, either side of Junction 3, for a fee believed to be £110,000.

They consistently said they had no plan for the site when they bought it and that it was 'strategic', a decision branded 'ridiculous' by then opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw.

But with one of the plots directly next to the proposed warehouse development its location is likely to be attractive to retail or food businesses who want to cash in on having potentially thousands of workers on their doorstep.

Cllr Hakewill previously called for that piece of council-owned land to become a country park for Rothwell.

Harworth say the site they have bought is in the prime 'Golden Triangle', an area of the Midlands which spans from Nottingham to Birmingham to Northampton and has many industrial developments because of its proximity to major roads such as the M1 and M6.

They say there is a strong demand for employment space and specifically industrial units and that they intend to promote the site as a means of meeting this demand as the North Northamptonshire Strategic Plan is prepared.

Andrew Blackshaw, chief operating officer at Harworth, said: “In September, Harworth announced plans to develop over three million sq ft of industrial and logistics units over the next five years, as part of its ambitious strategy to double the size of its business.

"Harworth is a highly experienced developer with a pipeline of over 26 million sq ft of industrial and logistics space, and our Rothwell acquisition enhances this further and demonstrates our ability to deliver our strategy.”

David Cockroft, regional director for the Midlands at Harworth, added: “This freehold acquisition offers the potential to deliver up to 1.5 million sq ft of grade A industrial and logistics space at this strategically located site within the Golden Triangle. It provides a timely opportunity to engage with local stakeholders as the North Northamptonshire Strategic Plan emerges, to demonstrate how Harworth can deliver sustainable new investment and jobs for the region.”

Warehouse developments are also planned for two sites near Thrapston and Titchmarsh, further along the A14 to the east.

In the wake of those applications a number of county pressure groups have joined forces to fight rural developments.

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