Social housing plan opposite popular Northampton MOT garage will ‘totally cut us off’ says boss

Martin Mann, far left,  believes a new social housing development opposite his MOT centre could finish it off.

Martin Mann, far left, believes a new social housing development opposite his MOT centre could finish it off.

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A long standing garage owner believes a new social housing development will leave his business so boxed in - it will put an end to his 31 year run in the town.

Martin Manns has had to endure several difficulties since moving to Lower Bath Lane, Spring Boroughs in the 1980s.

A set of bollards then put in by the county council to deter “anti-social behaviour” and prostitution in the area made parking outside the premises difficult. A set of double yellow lines installed by Northamptonshire County Council made matters worse - with 30 to 40 customers a day now struggling to find a space by the firm.

This month Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH)is set to build 14 new homes on a patch of land opposite - he had hoped to turn into a makeshift car park.

“It will totally cut us off,” he said. “We are going to have 28 cars coming out of this development constantly, there is nowhere to park as it stands.

Father of two Mr Manns, 60, is now calling on the county council to move the troublesome bollards at the end of Lower Bath Street and to take away the double yellow lines hampering his trade.

He also believes NPH should offer to move his business - like it did with Nicky’s News in nearby lower Cross Street.

“They can buy my land if they like,” he said. “But I think they should offer to relocate me.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council says it is set to launch a review of parking in the area and said there were no “legal grounds” for it to object to NPH’s plans for 14 houses there.

The spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of the owner of the Auto Point garage.

“Soon we will be undertaking a review of parking restrictions in the area and will be talking to all businesses to seek their views.

“However, regarding the new housing development: there were no grounds under which Highways could legally object to the plans.

“The bollards between Lower Bath Street and Scarletwell Street were installed several years ago, like in much of the Spring Boroughs area to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour.

“This measure has been extremely effective and discussions with groups in the area have shown a reluctance to have the bollards removed.”

NPH has also been contacted for comment.

Councillor Jill Hope (Lib Dem, Sixfields) was approached by Mr Manns for help.

She said; “I feel that Martin has been more than reasonable in his approaches to the council, and has tried really hard to come up with suggestions that will benefit both parties, but has been brushed aside.

“I’m disappointed that someone who has maintained his business for more than 30 years and has many loyal customers and several staff could be forced out of business because the council won’t listen to his concerns.”

Executive director of housing management at NPH, Shirley Davies, said: “NPH has worked closely with the local community and residents groups in the area to make sure our plans reflect the housing need in Spring Boroughs in line with the Spring Boroughs Neighbourhood Plan.

On Lower Bath Street, we currently manage a garage site which is rundown and underutilised. Our plans are to demolish the garage site and replace with much needed family homes. These homes will feature their own car parking spaces (2 spaces per house).

The area will also feature an additional three car parking spaces. In total, this exceeds the minimum planning requirement for parking”.

“We are in discussion with the owner of Auto Point, Northamptonshire Highways and Northampton Borough Council to explore options for additional parking”.