04 February 2014

Northamptonshire County Council continues with its objection to the document which outlines where future housing and employment growth will take place in West Northamptonshire.

The authority says the revisions that are now proposed still do not address its concerns over the locations for growth and the delivery of the associated infrastructure.

A report to be heard at a meeting of the authority’s Cabinet next week summarizes the concerns the council has with the West Northamptonshire joint core strategy.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for economic growth, strategic infrastructure and public protection, said: “The joint core strategy provides the blueprint for future development in West Northamptonshire and as such it essential that we get it absolutely right.

“The county council continues to have some fundamental concerns about the proposals in the joint core strategy and it is important that they are raised at this stage so we can be sure that future growth in the county is sustainable.”

What does the strategy do?

The strategy has been drawn up by the West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (WNJPU) on behalf of the local planning authorities.

A Government planning inspector examined a wide range of representations to the original ‘submitted plan’, including concerns from the county council, at a series of public hearings held in April and May 2013. This resulted in him asking for additional work to be done taking on board Government’s latest guidance including a re-assessment of the housing and employment numbers and the distribution of this development to help him in his considerations as to whether the plan can be approved.

In doing so he also asked that consideration be given to alternative end dates for the plan of 2029 and 2031 as the existing 2026 end date did not provide for a 15 year time horizon as supported by national policy guidance.

What are the concerns?

The county council’s major concerns are centred on the amount of development that is proposed for the south and west of Northampton and considers that this growth could be better located to the north of the town where better use could be made of the infrastructure that is required to support the development.

It is this revised document the county council is now raising concerns about and these will be fed back during public hearing sessions that will be held in March if Cabinet gives its approval. These are locations where the council is seriously concerned about the impact of large scale development on the strategic and local road network.

While the revised document now proposes additional development to the north of Northampton it also proposes substantially more to the west of the town and maintains the allocation of a 1,000 houses at Collingtree to the south.

The right infrastructure

The county council says that the delivery of infrastructure will be critical to the development of this housing and employment growth and this also includes in relation to the development of 1,000 homes north of the Whitehills area of Northampton, more usually known as Buckton Fields.

The planning inspector requested that further work be undertaken by the joint planning unit including a re-assessment of the need for housing and jobs taking on board the Government’s latest guidance.