01 April 2010

Northamptonshire County Council is set to introduce a strategy which will guide future planning and investment in the county, forging the way ahead to a stronger and greener local economy.

The Northamptonshire Arc will sweep south-west to north-east from Northampton. It will encompass all the larger towns including Daventry and Towcester in the west and south, Kettering and Corby in the north and Wellingborough, Rushden, Oundle and Thrapston in the east.

This swathe of county is the main focus of existing economic activity, principal road arteries and the bulk of new housing and other development. It also includes a significant stretch of the River Nene and its tributaries and the important natural habitats that they support.

The Arc, as well as being a geographic area, will also act as a concept to unite all of the county’s development projects in order to strengthen bids to attract funding from central government and raise Northamptonshire’s profile externally.

The matter will be discussed at a meeting of the county council’s cabinet on Tuesday, April 13.

Cllr Heather Smith, county council cabinet member for environment, growth and transport, said: “There is no single overall strategy for the county which offers a clear approach for plan-making, or expresses priorities in a practical spatial way. The Northamptonshire Arc will do this. It will help to ensure that future development benefits the people of Northamptonshire and the environment.

“The county has been earmarked as being part of one of the four main areas of the country which will facilitate population and economic growth over the next 20 years, so it is essential that we have a robust plan which will guide this.”

Since 2001 Northamptonshire’s population has grown by 7.7 per cent which is more than twice the national average of 3.3 per cent.

Up to 2026, the county’s population is due to grow by 28 per cent (191,200 people) from 686,700 to 877,900.

In the same period there will be an increase of 29 per cent in school age children (four to 17 years) and an increase of 72 per cent in people aged over 65 years. The additional number of housing will be 128,200.

If the cabinet approves the proposal a public consultation will take place with the county’s borough and district councils invited to consider adopting the Northamptonshire Arc concept.