Will it matter that neither site has been zoned for development?

Yes. Neither site has been designated as suitable for warehouse development, or any kind of built development, in the East Northamptonshire Local Plan (which is being inherited by the new North Northamptonshire Council, and can be viewed at here). We are reminding the council of this.

If new warehouses are needed – and there is some evidence that recent developments near here are struggling to find tenants – they should be located on brownfield land (such as the redevelopment of existing industrial estates to make more efficient use of land), or on sites by the rail network, so freight can come and go by rail, not road, in line with national planning policies (see here).

A new Planning Bill, which is currently going through parliament, may make it easier for large developments like this to get planning permission (see here for a good summary). But the proposed new law also allows local authorities to designate land as either “protected”, for “renewal”, or for “growth”.

In protected areas – such as areas of natural beauty, places at risk of flooding, and the green belt – development would generally remain restricted. But councils would have to look favourably on development in “renewal” areas, while in “growth” zones, applications conforming to pre-agreed local plans would automatically gain initial approval. We are arguing that the beautiful landscapes in and around the Nene Valley are designated as “protected”, and that they are completely unsuitable for warehouse developments of any kind.