Campaigners against Carlsberg’s proposed new distribution centre in Northampton fear a new application may be made by a different company to build on greenbelt land near Great Houghton.
It was announced last week the giant lager manufacturer had withdrawn plans for a new 640,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution hub at Brackmills.
The planning application was withdrawn by Roxhill Developments Ltd – which had put the proposals together on behalf of Carlsberg – a day before they were due to be discussed at a borough council planning committee meeting.
More than 350 residents of Great Houghton had signed a petition that was sent to the council calling for the application to be refused on the grounds it would remove the greenbelt ‘buffer’ between Brackmills industrial estate and Great Houghton village.
A spokesman for Carlsberg said the decision to withdraw the plans was taken after a group board meeting and said the company would be “exploring different options” to improve its UK supply chain.
Despite being pleased Carlsberg have dropped their plans, members of the Great Houghton Action Group are worried Roxhill Development Ltd may find a different company to build on the land.
Simon Drew, a member of the group, said he was concerned by the wording of the letter sent to the borough council by Savills, on behalf of Roxhill Developments Ltd, which stated the company would be in touch with the local authority in “due course with regard to re-submission”.
Rod Jeakings, a member of Great Houghton Parish Council and the village action group, said it was still open for Roxhill to “go and find someone else”.
He said: “I don’t think developing this piece of land is a wise decision either now or in the future.
“I’m pleased for the village that these plans have been withdrawn, but the worry is this piece of land will still be developed in the future.”
The villagers’ campaign against the Carlsberg plans were backed by Conservative MP for south Northamptonshire, Andrea Leadsom.
Mrs Leadsom said she would be meeting with Roxhill Development Ltd “very shortly” to explain the concerns of the community and insisting that the area in question was not appropriate for development.
Mrs Leadsom said: “Carlsberg are a welcome addition to Northampton, being one of the largest employers in the area, and have always had a very good relationship with local communities.
“However the plans for the new distribution centre were causing a great deal of concern in neighbouring villages, especially Great Houghton.
“Residents were very clear that they support the existing Brackmills site, but the greenbelt ‘buffer’ between Brackmills and Great Houghton is extremely important.
“There is great concern that if this development were to go ahead the character of the village could change forever.
“While Carlsberg have announced they will not pursue this development any further, Roxhill Ltd, who are the developers working on behalf of Carlsberg, have not yet said whether they will consider reviving the application with a view to finding a new tenant.
“Whilst developments which aim to create jobs are important, they must be appropriate and in keeping with the local area and take into account the thoughts, feelings and concerns of local residents.”
The Chronicle & Echo did not receive any comment from Roxhill Development Ltd regarding future plans.
RESIDENTS WANT LAND ON ‘COMMUNITY REGISTER’
Villagers of Great Houghton are planning to make an application for the greenbelt land between the village and Brackmills industrial estate to be listed on the Community Asset Register. If the land was registered as an ‘asset of community value’ it would mean any potential development would be ‘paused’ to give the residents time to raise enough money to buy the land. Rod Jeakings, a member of Great Houghton Parish Council, and the village action group, said it was an option they were exploring to try to prevent any further development on the border of the village. He said: “A lot of villages around Northampton are starting to feel threatened. I think village communities should be retained. “There has been a 70 per cent increase in the size of Great Houghton so we have had our share of development.”