Calls to halt industrialisation of A1(M) corridor

An artist's impression of the proposed development at junction 52.

Community representatives are being urged to halt the industrialisation of North Yorkshire’s A1(M) corridor by rejecting a proposal to create “a hotspot in the future of UK industry” across a site equivalent to 43 football pitches, most of which is classed as top quality farmland.

Although developer Eshton Castlevale’s plan for a 23-hectare site beside junction 52 of the A1(M) at Catterick has generated significant opposition from both local residents and traders, Richmondshire District Council’s planning officers have recommended its committee approves the scheme tomorrow.

The decision comes just months after Roadchef’s scheme to build an expansive motorway services area being approved beside the same junction.

Planning papers state the proposed industrial hub would include 84,913sq metres of general industry, storage and distribution floorspace and “result in significant job creation across a range of levels and roles”.

The documents give little detail of the scale of the jobs which could be created, but do state “a separate access is proposed off Catterick Road to the north of the application site to serve 549 car parking spaces associated with the largest commercial unit E”.

Unveiling the scheme last April, James Chapman, managing director at Eshton, said the site would be marketed at a time when there was “a real and urgent need for quality commercial space”, and that Catterick had the potential to become “a hotspot in the future of UK industry”.

He added: “Such schemes unlock countless commercial and economic opportunities within the local area, which have had a real impact on the lives of local people and the way that they are perceived both regionally and nationally.”

Nevertheless, residents and local bodies are calling on councillors to stop development off the A1(M), highlighting how swathes of farmland between Leeming Bar to the south and Scotch Corner to the north are already destined to be built over.

Objecting to the scheme, numerous residents, Richmond Business and Tourism Association and Catterick Parish Council have questioned the need for more industrial buildings as similar areas nearby, such as Colburn Business Park, are not fully occupied.

A parish spokesman added: “The use of good agricultural land for this development seems unnecessary at a time when the carbon footprint of food production is being reduced and so more food needs to be produced locally.

“The siting of industrial buildings on one of the routes to the tourist areas of Richmond and the Dales National Park could have a detrimental effect on the tourist numbers – deterring people from just passing through to these areas which rely heavily on the tourist industry.”

Richmond’s Civic Society said as the area historically had one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, the nproposed development alongside proposed to build an industrial and warehousing development at Scotch Corner “would be creating a demand that simply could not be fulfilled by people living locally”.

Recommending the scheme be approved, officers said they had balanced the loss of the best and most versatile farmland against “considerations of the efficient use of land for economic development adjacent to the strategic road network”.

They concluded the positive economic impacts of the development would outweighed its harmful consequences.