CONTROVERSIAL plans to double the size of Europe’s largest distribution park near Lutterworth have been rejected by Harborough District Council.
Magna Park owners IDI Gazeley applied to build up to 420,000 square metres of new offices, storage and distribution units, a logistics institute of technology, start-up business units, an exhibition and heritage centre, innovation centre and an HGV driver training centre – altogether the size of around 103 football pitches.
The council’s planning committee initially granted permission in November, but it was called in for review by full council, and the proposal was rejected by 12 votes to 10 at a special meeting on Wednesday January 10.
The park is already home to firms including BT and Asda, and IDI Gazeley say the proposed expansion would have created 5,800 jobs.
But the Magna Park is Big Enough (MPIBE) campaign group, many of who spoke at the meeting, argued granting permission would harm the surrounding countryside, including the medieval village near Bitteswell, and choke rural roads with traffic.
An MPIBE spokesperson said: “We did it! Absolutely elated at the unexpected result.
“Thanks to everyone who turned out to the meeting and to those who have supported the campaign over the past three years. A whole galaxy of stars have been involved in this campaign – well done everyone.
“I am sure IDI Gazeley will appeal the decision. However we have delayed things once again and we will continue the fight.”
Supporters celebrated on MPIBE’s Facebook page.
Sue Martin said: “For many years the people in the surrounding area have had to put up and shut up with really bad planning decisions. Common sense instead of money has at last kicked in.”
Martyn Sankey added: “I just have to say how very impressive all of the supporting speakers were. It took guts to make those pitches, in a very daunting environment. Delivered from the heart and made the supporters of the plan look, in my opinion, rather silly.
“The speeches influenced the voting councillors’ decisions. Democracy won.”
IDI Gazeley, which owns the existing 500 acre park, has not yet responded – but has the right to appeal to planning inspectors against the decision.
The council has already given planning permission for DB Symmetry to build 280,000 square feet of warehousing at Magna Park.
And it has also approved a new IDI Gazeley warehouse which will create 1,200 jobs.