One letter of support against 552 objections...but Northampton shop plan likely to go ahead

Councillor James Hill - outside the Barn Owl in Rectory Farm. Hawthorn Leisure wants to turn the pub into a shop...but hundreds of residents don't want it to happen NNL-160113-170338009
Councillor James Hill - outside the Barn Owl in Rectory Farm. Hawthorn Leisure wants to turn the pub into a shop...but hundreds of residents don't want it to happen NNL-160113-170338009
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Unpopular plans to turn a Northampton pub into a convenience store are on the verge of being approved tonight - despite 552 objection letters against it, a petition and two protection bids.

Towards the end of 2015 owners of the Barn Owl on Olden Road in Rectory Farm, Hawthorn Leisure Limited, applied to turn the two-storey building into a Co-op food store.

Plans to see the Barn Owl pub in rectory Farm turned into a shop could be approved tonight.

Plans to see the Barn Owl pub in rectory Farm turned into a shop could be approved tonight.

But 552 people wrote objection letters against plans, 154 people signed a petition and both Rectory Farm’s councillor and local MP David Mackintosh wrote to the council to show their disapproval.

Those against the plan did not want the area to lose another pub and feared a new Co-op could put a nearby Costcutters shop - whose tenants have been there for 25 years - out of business.

In a last ditch bid, Rectory Farm Residents’ Association tried to have the building recognised as an Asset of Community Value and afforded protected status by the borough under planning rules.

But a fortnight ago that failed. The pub now stands empty and boarded up.

Tonight the plans are due to go before the borough council’s planning committee and are recommended for approval.

A report to the committee reads: “The proposed alterations are considered acceptable and the proposal would not lead to any unacceptable impacts on adjacent amenity or significantly increased impacts on existing highway conditions.”

The meeting is set to take place in the Jeffrey Room of the Guildhall from 6.30pm tonight.

Councillor James Hill (Con , Rectory Farm) says several people are due to speak out against the plans at tonight’s meeting.

“This is the D-Day for us as far as this decision goes,” he said.

“We are just hoping it will be rejected, which will force Hawthorn Leisure to enter into a dialogue with us.

“We want to see the building returned as a pub, but we are open to discussing other uses.”

The Co-op plans have received only one letter of support from a nearby resident stating there “could do with a better shop close by.”