Villagers are urged to make their voices heard over Magna Park

Magna Park protest
Magna Park protest

Six thousand leaflets urging local people to object to the expansion of Magna Park are being distributed by campaigners this week.

The leaflets ask locals to show their opposition to plans to double the size of the south Leicestershire business hub, near Lutterworth.

Locals are told to “show the strength of feeling” by attending the Harborough District Council meeting on Thursday, January 28.

But despite the opposition, planning officers have recommended that councillors approve plans at the meeting for the new warehouse.

At the meeting, councillors are due to discuss the first of three big Magna Park extension schemes - a vast, one million square foot warehouse.

The “Magna Park’s Big Enough” campaigners plan a demonstration at 6pm outside the meeting place - Lutterworth High School, Woodmarket Road, Lutterworth. The meeting itself starts at 6.30pm.

“There are almost 1,800 objections to the three Magna Park expansion proposals” said Graham Logan, from the Cotesbach Action Group, one of two main local groups opposing the schemes.

“It must be the most the council has ever received against a planning application. We want to be there too, to make sure local councillors are listening to the voice of local people.”

At the January 28 meeting, councillors will discuss the plans for a huge new warehouse for distribution and express mail giant DHL, measuring more than a million square feet.

The 23-metre high warehouse would dwarf the existing large warehouses on Magna Park, and create around 1,200 new jobs.

The warehouse is the first part of two main plans by developers IDI Gazeley to double the size of Magna Park, creating around 5,000 new jobs. The other is for 105 acres of new storage and distribution warehousing, to be decided at a future meeting.

Planning director of IDI Gazeley Gwyn Stubbings has told the Mail the expansion is to meet the “significant demand” for more facilities at Magna Park.

“We are an important part of the community” he said. “We are continuing to deliver the jobs and inward investment that the district and region need.”

Magna Park is an important contributor of business rates to Harborough District, and has helped to keep council tax down, as well as unemployment, across the Harborough area.

Two large companies - Costco and Primark - have decided to move out of Magna Park in the last year. As distribution warehouses get bigger, IDI Gazeley believes an expansion is needed to help keep Magna Park’s existing companies.

A separate developer - Barwood Developments Ltd - wants to build a distribution park on the other side of the A4303/Coventry Road, next-door to Magna Park. That plan will also be decided at a later meeting.

But local protestors like Graham Logan insist Magna Park is already big enough, and new jobs are not needed in the area, which already has close to full employment.

“All these new workers will have to drive to Magna Park from Leicester and Coventry, clogging up already busy local roads” said Mr Logan.

“The right place for distribution hubs is at motorway junctions - not on greenfield sites near villages. I just hope councillors are listening carefully to us, and not just thinking of the business rates.”

More information from the objectors on Facebook at facebook.com/VAAMP (Village Action Against Magna Park) and on Twitter @CotesbachAG