Image showing land around Furtho Pit that is to be developed following a truthful planning application being slipped through without

When Apparent Truthful Statements are Misleading

When someone uses truthful statements to mislead you they are paltering. It’s not lying but it’s not drawing your attention to things that would perhaps influence what you do and how you do it.

It seems this could possibly have happened locally with a planning application that took place in July 2020. Land known as Furtho Pit is located next to the A5 roundabout, access is via the road leading to Cosgrove village. West Northants Local Plan  designated the land as an employment zone. Effectively, the council wants developers to develop the land to create work opportunities, hopefully for local people.

Have our MPs, Councillors and Developers told Nothing But the Truth?

That all sounds great doesn’t it? Planners, councillors and developers all followed the correct process in making the application. However, this all took place during the pandemic and so COVID protocols were in place during the consultation. Most people had other things on their minds, and it would seem that the local MP, West Northants council and developers only did the bare minimum to let us, the local community, know the true extent of the development.

Of course, the parish councils are given opportunity to review applications, which they did. But it goes back to paltering, the area these local parish councillors know as Furtho Pit does not include the additional fields that are now in the application. In fact, it seems the additional fields were not included in the original application at all. It’s also interesting that a planning application for the area was refused some years ago due to the contaminated soil from the old Oxide Works.

Is this be truthful and fair?

Is this Misleadingly Truthful?

Let’s also not forget parish councillors are volunteers, not trained planners, architects, or economic advisers. They usually work full-time and carry out their roles for the greater good of their communities. Additionally, in a small village, they are probably not used to dealing with planning applications of this level and impact. Were they given misleading information, or did those in charge, who were fully aware of the true extent of the proposal, sufficiently highlight the essential details? Only those in charge can clarify that.

Even if someone did spot this ‘misleading truth’ would a challenge have changed anything? Possibly not due to the incredibly complicated planning law.

Is this be truthful and fair?

Up to 100,000+ Extra Lorries on Old Stratford Roundabout

Effectively the development will include 9 massive warehouses covering 16 hectares or 160,000 square metres. There will be bays for 80 lorries and a truck park. At 80 lorry bays with only one lorry per day gives an extra 560 lorries per week or nearly 30,000 lorries per year on our roads. Or, if 4 lorries used each bay each day that’s a shocking additional 116,480 lorries using the Old Stratford roundabout.

If you currently use this roundabout, you’ll know just how congested it already is, particularly when the M1 has problems. Although the development plans state they’ll install a three-arm signal on the A508 just before the roundabout, could that add to congestion? On top of the congestion imagine the level of vehicle pollution from these additional lorries, that’s before you think about the possible 12,000 extra cars from the new housing developments.

Is this be truthful and fair?

Will it Bring You Well-Paid Quality Work?

Yes, then there is the issue of employment. The Local Plan talks about encouraging sustainable economic growth by increasing job opportunities to about 37,000 residents. It also discusses sustainable growth and expansion of business in rural areas. Along with this there is development of diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses. Interestingly, a further goal is to develop sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside. All great goals.

The local plan promises high value employment. This is particularly important as local residents state that Ian McCord, local independent MP for the ward, recently made alarming comments. He suggested that there could be a zero mix of offices and local industry on this land, meaning 100% allocated to distribution and warehouses. Realistically, these days most warehouses of this nature are automated, which would mean very limited employment. Should planners demonstrate a commitment from businesses which are likely to rent the office and industrial units? After all, visit our local towns and farm locations to see the number of empty offices and industrial units. And don’t forget the lorry scenario was based on the original plans.

Is this be truthful and fair?

We’ll Give You a Sweet if You…

Then, there is the question of how such enormous dark grey warehouses will fit with the character of our local countryside. Frampton’s describe their ‘recessive colours as less visually intrusive’. It would be interesting to see how Ian Harvey, Frampton’s CEO would feel if he lived directly opposite a load of massive dark grey metal warehouses with curved roofs – just take a look at their brochure. It’s not just the colour, though, these units are estimated to reach 15 metres / 50 feet in height, that’s equivalent of about 2.5 normal 2 storey houses.

The local plan also talks about sustainable local rural tourism and leisure developments. The development plan describes a country park with a recreational area for the local community. Somehow, it feels like that situation of ‘we’ll do something awful for your area but make you feel better by building you a better countryside’. They forget we already have some beautiful countryside, and the Buckingham Canal Trust is aiming to make it more beautiful and appealing for local tourism. Now does that not sound far more appealing and even sensible?

Is this be truthful and fair?

NIMBY vs Protecting Our Ever Limited Countryside

Ultimately, what was COP22 in Glasgow really trying to achieve? Does this level of lorries really align with the target of reaching net zero by the middle of the century – electric or not? We talk deforestation but what about preventing even more of our limited natural green belt areas of the south east from being used for industrial purposes.

You may ask if this is more about industry not being not in my backyard (NIMBY). Maybe it is, or maybe, just maybe, it’s more about protecting an already over-developed area. Why destroy yet more of our aesthetically beautiful countryside?

Is this be truthful?

Residents Views Seem to Mean Nothing

‘The Community Planning Alliance’ has highlighted that communities are fighting over 530 environmental campaigns. Developers and councils have far greater spending power than the communities trying to face up to fighting the system. While it is impossible to prove, some people suggest that poor scrutiny and even corruption is rife throughout the system. A local example at Maids Moreton happened recently. Residents proved that the powers had not followed due process, yet development plans proceeded. It’s not just here, this is nationwide.

Is this be truthful?

MPs Believe the Government is Ignoring Communities

The white paper “Planning for the Future” points to the planning process worsening. The government and planners want to speed up inception and local development plans. Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh expressed concern that the government is not interested in protecting the right of communities to object to individual planning applications.

Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey in agreement, points out the government pushed through reforms to planning laws which is taking away our democratic voices over planning policy. Effectively, you and I won’t be able to object to planning applications directly affecting us.

Is this be truthful and fair?

What’s it All About?

This is not about being a NIMBY. Residents simply want a say over how they believe their areas are being and should be developed.

So where do we go from here? Local villagers have joined together to try and fight this plan. Even the most experienced of legal advisors and planners suggest this a fait a compli – yes no way for local residents to complain or do anything about this monstrosity. Basically, they’ve missed the 6 week cut-off.

Is this be truthful and fair?

Let’s Take Action

Andrea Leadsome has confirmed her support in the call for an urgent review and wrote to Ms Anna Earnshaw, Chief Executive of West Northamptonshire Council at the beginning of February. The local group, to date, have not received a response from her.

There is a lot of apathy about – what is the point, it’s a fait a compli, what will we achieve? Well, if we all take that approach what will be next, where will this lead. We must take action and fight for the rights of local residents. Developers and planners are increasingly taking actions that impinge on the homes and businesses of all of us.

Do you really believe this is about being truthful and fair? Perhaps profit speaks louder than desire, need and indeed, the truth. 

For now would you be willing to fight for your community?

Read more here:

Cosgrove Village Website