Plans to place 2,200 homes on Northampton's border will impact on protected beauty spot and add to A45 traffic woes

Councillor Jonathan Nunn has objected to plans to earmark land to the south of Northampton as suitable for 2,200 homes.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn has objected to plans to earmark land to the south of Northampton as suitable for 2,200 homes.

A neighbouring council's proposals to approve land to the south of Northampton for 2,200 homes has ruffled the feathers of Guildhall chiefs - as the proposed sites is home to 20,000 water birds.

South Northamptonshire Council has earmarked two sites on its northern border as "reserve" housebuilding territory in its draft local plan, should five-year house building targets fall short.

The Washlands, part of the Upper Nene Gravel Pits conservation area.

The Washlands, part of the Upper Nene Gravel Pits conservation area.

The swathes of land being proposed to the east of Wootton and south-east Northampton for a collective 2,200 homes could bring new houses close to the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits area.

However the protected lagoons on the site, such as the Washlands, support a thriving bird population including the mute swan and the gadwall and the rare species are known to nest in the surrounding lands.

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn (Con, Nene Valley) has lodged a motion objecting to the two sites, which would also deposit thousands of cars on Northampton's boundary.

Councillor Nunn's motion states: "This council strongly objects to any further development to the south and south-east of Northampton due to the impact it will have on local services, the lack of road infrastructure improvements and the impact on the A45 and local road network without adequate mitigation."

The Washlands, part of the Upper Nene Gravel Pits conservation area.

The Washlands, part of the Upper Nene Gravel Pits conservation area.

The dispute is the latest in a long-running battle between South Northants and the Northampton Borough Council over borders.

Kier Ventures Limited's plans for 100 homes off Newport Pagnell Road and the 525-house Hampton Green development east of Wootton and Hardingstone all fall just within South Northants' borders.

It means the latter development, for instance, would deposit houses three miles away from the centre of Northampton. The majority of the tax benefits, however, will be sent to a council based 10-miles away in Towcester.

Councillor Nunn's motion, set to be voted on at Monday night's full council meeting, is likely to win approval from both sides of the Guildhall chamber.

Leader of the opposition Labour group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said: "The need for new houses should be spread fairly across our area and there is now a serious feeling that South Northants District Council are deliberately placing developments on our borders in to protect the villages.

"They are placing more and more developments, for example, along the Newport Pagnell Road with little thought about infrastructure needs.

"I’m afraid the lovely villages in South Northants must share the housing burden as well as Northampton and it is unfortunate councillors in South Northants think Northampton should take all the strain.”

In 2014 South Northamptonshire was classed as the seventh best place to live in the UK.

Council leader, Councillor Ian McCord said: “National planning policy states that each council make available enough land and planning permissions to satisfy demand for a rolling five year period.

"The area here relates to Northampton Related Development Area, NRDA, which includes parts of SNC and Daventry districts and all of Northampton Borough. About one in four of all houses in the NRDA will be built in Daventry and South Northants areas.

“At present, the NRDA does not meet that five-year rule. SNC has identified sites to be used as reserve, if the NRDA continues to underperform.

“I welcome the fact that NCB are engaging with the process and fulfilling their legal duty to co-operate with other neighbouring councils.

“There is nothing that I could not sign-up to in this NBC motion, and as it states, this is a proposed reserve site that will only be brought forward should the failure to build the right number of houses within the NRDA continue.

“The proposed SNC policy also acknowledges that access, road improvements, and ecology issues that are of concern to NBC, must be resolved before any planning permissions on this site would be granted. In that we are agreed.

“The motion asks that we consider the views of Northampton Borough Council and Natural England, I can assure them, we will consider their responses and welcome them.

“I would urge Northampton Borough to recommit themselves to building the houses they have agreed to within the NRDA. This is the best way to prevent unwanted development.”