Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry

The Weekley Hall Wood Planning Inquiry ran from Tuesday 28th November to Friday 8th December 2023, and on January 8th 2024, the planning inspectors decision was published…

He dismissed the developers appeal and refused planning permission!

While we are uncertain what Buccleuch will do next – they could appeal to the High Court to have the planning inspector decision quashed, or put in another planning application for the area – however, we are glad that the community triumphed in this instance. As a lot of the press coverage stated (including the front cover of the Northants Telegraph), people power worked this time!

The Public Inquiry took place because Buccleuch Property (the appellant) lodged the Appeal against North Northamptonshire Council for non-determination (not deciding the application promptly).

The Save Weekley Hall Wood community group were granted ‘Rule 6’ status and was able to fundraise to be represented by Paul Stinchcombe KC working with Harrison Grant Ring.

The Government Planning Inspector was George Baird.

The entire Inquiry was live-streamed by both us and North Northamptonshire Council. We also live-streamed our reactions after each day of the Inquiry. If you watch only one of the live-streams make it the incredible public speaker session held on the evening of Wednesday 6th December – the speakers brought home the love the people of Kettering have for the wood and meadow. We have since edited the individual speeches and improving the audio and – you can watch them here.

All videos are available on YouTube and can be watched on our channel.

Public Inquiry live-stream playlist

Post-Inquiry reactions playlist

Council live streams are available on their channel.

We also gained a good amount of media attention which you can watch here and read about on our press coverage page.

We recommend liking and following our Facebook page, as this is kept up to date more often than other social media sites.

Members of the team after the Public Inquiry. L-R – Frankie O’Dowd, Dez Dell, Polly Shackleton, Grace Siddington, Robert Dixon and Martin Toms

What is a Public Inquiry and what happens at one?

“A public inquiry is a highly structured formal meeting overseen by a planning inspector, where evidence is presented and considered, witnesses are cross-examined, and a site visit is undertaken before a final decision on a development proposal is reached.

On a very basic level, a public inquiry leads to planning permission being approved or refused for development. Its purpose is to set the case both for and against a development proposal before an inspector, who eventually makes the final decision.”

This is taken from the Friends of the Earth Public Inquiries Guide.

What is going to happen in this Public Inquiry?

In this instance, Buccleuch Property (the developer) took the case to the Planning Inspector as North Northants Council had not decided the planning application in a timely manner (an appeal of ‘non-determination’).

Save Weekley Hall Wood played a part in the Planning Inquiry, alongside the Council and the Developer. Members of the team were witnesses at the Inquiry and we were represented by our legal team – Paul Stinchcombe KC and Alice Goodenough of Harrison Grant Ring*.

The Public Inquiry began on Tuesday 28th November and ran for 2 weeks with the last day being Friday 8th December (aside from Mondays). The first day started at 10am and every day afterwards at 9:30am.

The Inquiry was held at the North Northants Council Office, Cedar Drive, Thrapston, NN14 4LZ. Google Maps link.

*Harrison Grant Ring also represents the Wellingborough Walks Action Group and the STRAW group which opposed Plymouth City Council in their tree massacre earlier this year.

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