Concern for Corby workers who will live in a ‘tin can alley’ behind a warehouse

The new accommodation is based at the iForce warehouse in Geddington Road, Corby

Temporary accommodation for warehouse workers in Corby has been described as ‘Victorian’ by a local councilor.

Three-storey modular units have been installed behind the iForce building owned by Eddie Stobart at Midlands Logistics Park in Geddington Road. London-based IForce recruitment agency GIG says it is an innovative way to ensure staff can come to work at Corby from across the country.

However, local elected officials raised concerns about the level of accommodation and its location in a storage area behind the warehouse next to a railway line. They have now dubbed it “the tin can alley”.

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Councilor Simon Rielly says he has serious concerns about the quality of accommodation on the site

Cllr Simon Rielly, who is on the Corby area planning committee but has pledged not to vote on this application should it go to the committee, said: ‘There could be 50 people living in boxes canned here.

“They are far from all transport services and links.

“The company talks about worker flexibility and how they can move staff around, but there’s nothing at all about staff welfare which we think is important.

“It goes back to Victorian values ​​and workhouses.

Interiors show people will share bathrooms and kitchens

“iForce suggests this is the first of a long series. We don’t want Corby to be a back in time experience.”

The iForce warehouse was originally marketed as providing jobs for “350 local people”. But as the steady stream of European workers moving to Corby dried up after Brexit, many businesses in the town began to struggle to find staff.

However, they have now decided to provide their own accommodation on the disused land and have asked North Northamptonshire Council to change the use for the site.

The location of the new accommodation block, in red.

The units have been in place for a few months but iForce says they are not yet in use. Planners asked the company to submit a development application following a site visit.

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The entry was submitted by iForce owners Eddie Stobart and GIG Hotels Limited. They want permission for the three-storey temporary accommodation block with 48 units that can accommodate up to 52 people for the next three years.

There are strict laws regarding employers providing housing for their workers, enforced by the Gangmasters and Labor Abuse Authority. Accommodation should be deemed to be in good condition, with adequate kitchens and bathrooms and have all relevant licenses.

It is not yet known whether the site will require a multiple occupancy house license.

The planning request states: “Eddie Stobart has identified the need to provide housing for its staff to better manage staffing levels during peak times when warehouse staffing requirements can increase by over 300% .

“By developing purpose-built staff housing, this occupier would be able, during peak periods, to bring in staff from further afield to supplement the local labor pool and fill gaps that the labor market local labor is unable to fill during peak periods.”

They say the interior space includes bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen area “in a high-quality environment”. Many workers will share kitchens and bathrooms. The application says there would be astroturf and benches outside, an 2.4m security fence around the block and a path built to connect to the factory.

The site is owned by Mulberry Property Developments on what is dubbed ‘one of the UK’s biggest logistics opportunities’. When Eddie Stobart opened his warehouse in 2019, they promised in their marketing that there would be “350 jobs for the people of Corby”.

GIG owner Antony Woodcock said warehouses like iForce in Corby have suffered a negative impact from the pandemic and Brexit on their ability to keep things running smoothly, with two-thirds of businesses unable to recruit and staff. retain sufficient staff to deal with recent disruptions.

He said: “We have been aware of a ripple effect in the UK labor market, particularly where there are a number of logistics companies which all have significant staffing needs.

“The iForce warehouse in Corby, one of GIG’s current partners, supplies orders to some of the largest retailers in the country, and 80 workers are currently supplied daily by GIG Hub.

“GIG Hub brings workers from high unemployment areas to places like Northamptonshire, ensuring a minimum level of supply for customers with a closed-public workforce.

“GIG takes care of all travel and accommodation for its workers and has created purpose-built accommodations at partner sites like iForce to accommodate the workers it provides to them. This avoids some additional costs such as transportation and hotel accommodation, allowing for even less costs to be passed on.

“Purpose-built housing allows us to maintain a consistent delivery for our customers, so we can guarantee a certain head count and keep that cost stable throughout the year. It also means we can scale the accommodation to better meet the needs of our workers.

No objections to the planning application have so far been raised by NNC’s housing or highway departments. Northants Police did not object but raised safety concerns. .

You can review the application and comment on it here.

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