Councillors 'went back on their word' by agreeing to sell land for huge Northampton housing estate

The land at Buckton Fields as been earmarked for a 1,050 home development.
The land at Buckton Fields as been earmarked for a 1,050 home development.

Conservatives on Northamptonshire County Council have been accused of going back on their word - after agreeing to sell land for the Buckton Fields development despite saying they would hold off until roads and infrastructure were in place.

In 2011, the council passed a motion agreeing that it would not sell a large parcel of land known as West View Farm in Brampton Lane, until better infrastructure was built place to cope with the 1,050 homes planned for the wider 123-acre site.

At the time, cabinet member Councillor Andrew Langley (Con, Irthlingborough) said: “We’ve nothing to hide, no deal has been signed. We will not sell the land without ensuring adequate infrastructure.”

But at the county council cabinet meeting this week, the authority voted to sell its parcel - approximately two-thirds of the overall land - to Bloor and Martin Homes, in a move expected to generate around £10 million in planning sweetener money.

The two housing developers have in principle planning permission to develop the first phase of the Buckton Fields land.

But Liberal Democrat Councillor Sally Beardsworth says there has been no firm assurance that better capacity roads will be built to serve the huge influx of cars it will bring to the Kingsthorpe corridor.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, she accused the Tories of going back on their word.

She said: "Five years ago, I had a motion put to this council to say that Buckton Fields would not be developed until the infrastructure had been put in place.

"You've gone back on your word.

"This decision is being made by a cabinet with only two members with a Northampton base.

"This is going to make a huge difference to Kingsthorpe."

Patrick Cross of the Whitehills and Spring Park Residents' Association (WASPRA) said he was disappointed by the decision.

He said: "We believe that no such assurances have been made apart from smart corridors and the completion of the North West Relief Road, the latter of which will dump even more traffic in Kingsthorpe.

"WASPRA is still pushing for a northern orbital road to complete the ring road around Northampton, but this project has been delayed by Northamptonshire County Council highways."

The council says the cabinet's decision to dispose of the West View Farm land will impact on Smith's Farm Shop in Brampton Lane, Chapel Brampton, which sits on the council-owned land.

But cabinet member for transport, Ian Morriss (Con, Silverstone) said selling the land was the only way to raise money to pay for such infrastructure improvements.