Call for council to block 'entirely illogical' plan to build 125 affordable homes on Northampton park
'The significance of maintaining these types of spaces for both leisure and environmental reasons has grown significantly'
A councillor wants the 'entirely illogical' plan to build 125 affordable homes on a park in Northampton to be blocked by the local authority.
Dennis Meredith has proposed a motion calling for Northampton Partnership Homes' (NPH) proposal for Fraser Park to be reviewed by West Northamptonshire Council for a meeting on Thursday (September 23).
The Liberal Democrat councillor for Talavera also wants the local authority to explore potential brownfield sites for the properties and develop a four-year investment place for the area.
The motion reads: "The proposal to build 125 affordable homes on the site put forward by NPH comes at a time when the importance of such open spaces for residents, especially those in urban areas, has grown in its relevance and significance as a result of our experience during the Covid pandemic.
"Whilst this proposal was included as part of the Northampton Borough Council local plan, which was supported pre-Covid, circumstances have changed and the significance of maintaining these types of spaces for both leisure and environmental reasons has grown significantly."
NPH held a public consultation in July on its plan to build on the Fraser Road park in Thorplands, which has been earmarked for development, to address the demand for social housing.
So far, more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposal to destroy the 'oasis of beauty in an otherwise very built-up area'.
Residents penned an open letter to the council in August, saying they have 'only just begun the fight' to save the park from being developed.
Councillor Meredith's motion reads: "Fraser Park is an area that is cherished by local residents who say it is one of the few safe outdoor spaces they have.
"This area has also recently been identified as one of the five ‘left behind’ areas in Northamptonshire.
"According to these findings, these communities are likely to experience a range of adverse outcomes, according to evidence presented to the APPG [All Party Parliamentary Group].
"This includes lower levels of educational attainment, reduced employment opportunities and a higher rate of ill health.
"‘Left behind’ neighbourhoods are also noted as having lower levels of community spaces, cultural, educational, leisure and green assets than other deprived areas.
"It would seem entirely illogical to even consider allowing development on such an open space given these factors."
Councillor Meredith says the development would break promises made in the West Northamptonshire Conservatives' manifesto and the council's corporate plan.
However, while the local plan was formulated pre-Covid, it was voted through by the full council, including Councillor Meredith, this year.
His motion also wants the council to note that 'whilst there is no doubt a need for additional social housing, it is equally important to protect and preserve green spaces for residents especially in urban settings'.
As well as blocking the Fraser Park housing plan, Councillor Meredith also wants the council to address the surrounding area's deprivation with an investment plan and 'task and finish group'.
The group, made up of unitary and town councillors and community groups, would work together to identify the area's needs and create an action plan to tackle them.