Northampton’s biggest social housing build for 30 years delayed by ‘technical difficulties’ after two years

The new social homes would form part of the wider Dallington Grange proposals, which have also been beset by delays.
The new social homes would form part of the wider Dallington Grange proposals, which have also been beset by delays.

A long-trumpeted plan to build 100 much needed new social homes in Northampton could be even further delayed because of “technical difficulties”.

It has now been two years since Northampton Borough Council announced its intentions to build the homes at Dallington Grange near Kings Heath, part of a major 3,400-house new estate.

The authority aimed to pay for the 100 social houses by selling off parts of the land that it owns at Dallington Grange and applied to the Government-run Local Growth Deal to borrow the rest of the funds.

Its bid was successful, but the Government has stated the money can only be used in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.

Papers set to go to tonight’s cabinet meeting state that the borough’s plans are so far behind schedule, it might not be able to use the Local Growth Deal funds.

The papers state: “Due to technical issues the project will not be considered by planning committee until April this year at the earliest.”

If building does not start in the 2016/17 year, the report says the project would need to be fully funded from a “redirection” of the council’s own capital funds.

Leader of the Labour opposition group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) has called for more information on the “technical issues”.

“It is really disappointing that the 100 new council homes at Dallington are going to be delayed further,” she said. “This scheme has been trumpeted by the borough council for about two years now and it has always been trailed as part of the answer to the housing crisis we have in Northampton.

“The reality is that it hasn’t even been approved by the planning committee, let alone a brick being laid.”

The Local Growth Deal money was available in the form of a long-term loan from Government.

But Councillor Stone said: “We can’t allow this opportunity to pass us by due to vague ‘technical issues’.”

The new social homes will form only a small part of the 3,400 house Dallington Grange new estate, which is a long-term development being devised by Persimmon Homes, Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes.

A Northampton Borough Council spokesman said: “We plan to build 100 homes at Dallington Grange, which will be the largest number of council homes built by the Borough Council for more than 30 years. These homes are part of an overall plan for 3,000 homes and there has been a slight delay while issues around infrastructure have been discussed, but this is not unusual when dealing with a proposed scheme of this size. We hope the planning application for our new homes will be considered by the Planning Committee in April 2016 and that work will start on site by the end of the year.”

Speaking at the time of the announcement of 100 new social homes in March 2014, the then leader of the council David Mackintosh, now MP for Northampton South, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to build a significant number of council houses in a very cost effective way.

“It is part of a new era for social housing in Northampton, as we move towards an arm’s length management organisation that will give our tenants more say over the investments that need to be made in their homes and their future.”

Today a spokesman for Northampton Borough Council said: “We plan to build 100 homes at Dallington Grange, which will be the largest number of council homes built by the Borough Council for more than 30 years.

“These homes are part of an overall plan for 3,000 homes and there has been a slight delay while issues around infrastructure have been discussed, but this is not unusual when dealing with a proposed scheme of this size. We hope the planning application for our new homes will be considered by the Planning Committee in April 2016 and that work will start on site by the end of the year.”