‘Glebe not greed’: Thrapston and Titchmarsh campaigners protest over church land sell off
A demonstration was held outside Peterborough Cathedral last night
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By Natalie Bloomer
Northamptonshire campaigners staged a protest outside Peterborough Cathedral last night over the sale of glebe land (land owned by the church) between Thrapston and Titchmarsh.
In 2020 the Diocese of Peterborough sold a ten year development option on the land which sits off the A605 adjacent to the Haldens Parkway in East Northamptonshire. In June of this year IM Properties put in a planning application for a 120 acre business park on the site.
Last night the Peterborough Cathedral held an event featuring the chair of Natural England Tony Juniper and hosted by Dr Pete Brotherton, who is the director of science and climate change at Natural England as well an environmental officer for the Diocese of Peterborough.
The event titled ‘What’s really happening to our planet?’ was advertised as reviewing ‘the current state of the planet and the way in which our unchecked human activity could change the world forever’.
The campaign group STAUNCH (Save Titchmarsh, Thrapston And Upper Nene Valley Countryside & Habitats) says it is hypocritical for the cathedral to be hosting the event given the sale of agricultural land by the church to developers.
More than 30 protesters gathered outside the cathedral wearing STAUNCH t-shirts and holding placards which read ‘Glebe not greed’.
“It’s too late to stop the sale of this land but we wanted to raise that the Diocese seems to have placed monetary concerns before the community and environment and we want to try to prevent anything else like this happening in other areas,” Kevin Shapland, Chair of STAUNCH told NN Journal.
“The Diocese of Peterborough owns 4,500 acres of glebe land - which community could be next? What they’ve done to this land seems to be a complete contradiction of their own environmental policy.”
The policy referred to says:
“Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are two of the greatest threats facing humankind. These are a Christian concern, representing a failure in our stewardship of God’s world, and a failure in our duty of care for each other…”
It goes on to say that the Diocese will enter into dialogue with ‘our agents and tenants across the glebe estate to encourage them to undertake practices beneficial to nature, and ensure that environmental considerations are a factor in agreeing any new tenancies or renewals’.
IM Properties says the Titchmarsh glebe site is ‘in a prime location to meet the significant demand for new employment space in this part of Northamptonshire – helping to retain existing businesses, attract new employers to the area, and support a more resilient local economy.’ They also say it has ‘the potential to accommodate up to 2,100 jobs’.
However Shapland says that they would not be able to fill that number of vacancies with local people meaning employees would likely be bussed in from other areas, creating even more traffic to the site.
The campaigners are not alone in their objections to the sale of the land. The former East Northamptonshire Council, Titchmarsh Parish Council and the local MP Tom Pursglove all raised concerns publicly prior to the development option being confirmed.
IM Properties is also involved in controversial warehouse plans in Towcester. NN Journal has previously reported on a well-supported campaign there against a number of plans for large warehouse developments - one of which is by IM Properties.
The glebe land development is one of two proposals STAUNCH is campaigning against. The other is by Newlands Developments for land sitting east of Halden’s Parkway just outside Titchmarsh, known as the Castle Manor Farm. These proposals are for a logistics development of up to 200,000 sqm with a maximum building height of 24m which Newlands says will create in excess of 2,000 new jobs.
The group has linked up with similar campaigns to see how they can support each other in their fight against big industrial developments on rural land.
The Diocese of Peterborough has been contacted for a comment.
Read more about the STAUNCH campaign below