1,900 home development on edge of Northampton given planning permission

The homes will be built on land running alongside Sandy Lane
The homes will be built on land running alongside Sandy Lane

An application to build 1,900 homes on the edge of Northampton near Harpole has been granted planning permission by councillors.

As well as the new homes, the Norwood Park development includes a new primary school, local centre and public spaces. It will also complete the proposed Sandy Lane Relief Road.

It was approved by councillors on South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee yesterday afternoon (March 7), despite objections from three parish councils in the area.

The development site runs along Sandy Lane between Harpole and St Crispin, and alongside the A4500.

Planning officers at South Northamptonshire Council said that the ‘benefits outweighed’ any negatives of the application.

But the parish councils objected due to the number of homes, what they felt was an ‘inappropriate location’ for the proposed primary school, air quality concerns and that it breached the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy.

Speaking to councillors at The Forum, in Towcester, the chairman of Harpole Parish Council, Colin Wilkinson, said: “Your committee meeting report agrees that the proposed development does not comply with the core strategy. The school is located on the far side of the Sandy Lane Relief Road from most of the new housing. This will cause danger to school children crossing the road.

“The new distributor road is called a relief road, but in fact the relief road will bring no relief to Sandy Lane which will be used as a major link into the new housing, as evidenced by the proposed improvements to the roundabout at the A4500 junction. It will be used as a rat-run by traffic seeking access to the M1. At peak times the queues on Sandy Lane are nearly a quarter of a mile long and the relief road will not ease this situation.”

The parish councils at Kislingbury and Upton had also objected to the scheme.

Planning officers acknowledged that as a small part of the application site was on open countryside, it could be seen as being contrary to the joint core strategy. But they added that due to a failure to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, the policies were considered ‘out of date’.

Some councillors on the committee echoed concerns about the location of the primary school, while Councillor Steven Hollowell bemoaned the lack of a secondary school on the site.

He said: “The county council have asked for a lot of silly little things, but when it comes to secondary education they haven’t asked for anything at all. There’s going to be hundreds of children going to the new primary school, but where are they going to go after that?”

Councillors were told that the percentage of affordable homes in the development was 15 per cent, less than the 35 per cent required by South Northamptonshire Council. But they were told that the scheme would not be viable if the figure was any higher.

Councillor Phil Bignell said: “When this application came to cabinet, the amount of affordable housing was only at 10 per cent, and we rejected it. We told planning officers that they could get better, and they have done.”

Lizzie Marjoram, from agents Bird Wilford and Sale, was speaking on behalf of the applicants Barwood Development and told councillors this was a chance to support a site that South Northamptonshire Council itself had earmarked for development.

She said: “No stone has been left unturned in this application. This application provides a green buffer between Harpole and Northampton, and 40 per cent of this application is green space. There will be affordable homes, arguably the most important part of this application.

“There will be a second phase for the relief road, vital new facilities for the football club in Harpole, £9million in New Homes Bonuses for this council, and £21million being spent locally in the economy by new residents. This is a great opportunity to deliver all these benefits.”

Despite raising some concerns, the committee granted outline planning approval for the development. This effectively gives permission to the principle of the development, but a reserved matters application - which will finalise the details and layout of the overall scheme - will have to be approved by the committee at a later date.