Harborough District Council sticks to Magna Park growth plan

Harborough District Council
Harborough District Council

The council says it has now found that extra evidence, highlighting reports that claims the East Midlands as a whole is short of warehouse space, and Magna Park needed “oven ready” plots for development in the medium term.

Harborough District Council has stuck to its guns on major Magna Park expansion – despite opposition from campaigners and some of its own councillors.

A majority of councillors at Tuesday night’s Extraordinary Council Meeting backed a proposal to allow 700,000 square metres for more warehouses at the distribution hub.

But Magna Park is Big Enough campaigner Maggie Pankhurst said after the meeting: “Lots of councillors said the right thing and then voted the wrong way. It’s disappointing they don’t have the courage of their convictions.”

The council had been asked to look again at their Magna Park proposals by an independent planning inspector who is evaluating the council’s Local Plan.

He said more evidence was needed to support the council view that major expansion is required at Magna Park, and that it would not cause significant harm to local residents.

Council leader Neil Bannister said it was a council responsibility to develop a “sound Local Plan” – which included land allocated for the distribution industry.

He added: “I don’t want to see nothing but (warehouse) sheds down the A5,” but claimed “local authorities are having to make difficult decisions with very limited sites.”

Four Conservative councillors – Rosita Page, Janette Ackerley, Johnathan Bateman and Elaine Chapman – argued for the expansion proposal to be reduced to 500,000 square metres.

Cllr Page said the council was asking for an “unreasonable amount” of warehouse space which would only provide jobs for unskilled outsiders – and more pollution.

Cllr Bateman said many people called the distribution hub zone “the black triangle” because of the polluted air.

But an amendment on the reduced warehouse coverage was defeated. Now the Inspector must decide if the council’s bolstered case for a big 700,000 square metre expansion has become convincing.