Huge cheers as councillors vote against plans for huge £300 million 'superjail' near Harborough

A decision has just been made at tonight’s (Tuesday’s) meeting

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 8:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 9:17 am
Protesters outside the meeting.

There were huge cheers from protesters after councillors voted to reject plans for a huge new £300 million ‘superjail’ near Market Harborough.

There were passionate pleas from campaigners at a packed planning meeting on Tuesday after council planners had initially recommended that the Ministry of Justice's (MOJ’s) proposal for a new high-security 1,700-inmate male prison by the existing 57-year-old jail at Gartree should be approved.

But as protesters made their voices heard outside the meeting, councillors raised their own concerns over the impact of traffic and developing on open countryside - and after a debate lasting over two hours, Harborough District Council's (HDC’s) planning committee unanimously agreed to refuse the plan.

Protesters outside the meeting.

This was greeted with cheers from people in the public gallery and the protesters outside.

Cllr Phil Knowles, who spoke against the plans, said: “I am delighted that the committee voted to refuse this application.

“My opposition has been clear from day one. I said that I struggled to see any benefits to the community. I had real concerns about so many things including traffic, environmental impacts and much more.

"I hope the MOJ accept this decision with good grace and look elsewhere in the country for a site”

Protesters outside the meeting.

Before the meeting, planning officers at Harborough District Council had recommended that the controversial plans should be approved, despite the huge opposition from parish councils at Great Bowden, Lubenham, Foxton and Gumley as well as Harborough district councillors like Phil Knowles.

And 364 objections were sent to the council amid growing fears over mounting traffic, growing pollution, poor air quality and loud noise. But the MOJ argued that the plans would bring great investment to the area.

Protester Katherine Winterson said the right decision had been made, adding: "The MOJ can't possibly appeal on this decision. They now need to go away and rethink their whole strategy on where to build super prisons.

"Building in an area just because they own the land is not a good enough reason."

Protesters outside the meeting.

Fellow campaigner Kay Hoggett added: "I'm absolutely delighted by the refusal. It's heartening to see common sense prevailing.

"The HDC planning committee seem to have listened to local feeling and recognised that it is completely the wrong place for a massive prison."