A 3,000-home development in Northampton has been given outline planning approval.
The Dallington Grange development, located between Lodge Farm industrial estate and Kings Heath, will also see a new local centre built comprising a food store, six retail units, a restaurant, pub and takeaway, as well as a nursery, two primary schools and a secondary school.
The approval came despite the objections of more than 100 residents, as well as ward councillors and local parish councils - all of whom raised concerns at the level of traffic as a result of the North West Relief Road, the first phase of which forms part of the proposals.
Members of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee also approved the scheme despite it coming up short of the council’s own affordable homes target for developments, with 10 per cent instead of the desired 30 per cent.
Angela Bartlett is a member of the Whitehills & Spring Park Residents’ Association (WASPRA), and told the panel that county council highways figures they had procured through a Freedom of Information request show that traffic flow in 2021 would increase by 87 per cent on Brampton Lane.
She said: "The relief road is not robust, it simply dumps thousands of cars on our area."
Councillors had no follow-up questions to the data, to which she said post-meeting: “I’m surprised we had so many conversations about things like footpaths, but no-one picked up on the highways figures.”
Councillor Terrie Eales, who was attending with residents, also raised concerns over traffic, saying: "We are going to be looking at at least one car per household and that level of increase is going to be crazy."
Speaking in favour of the application, Rob Riding, of Pegasus Group, the applicant's agent, said the development was a 'major investment in housing' and offers a 'comprehensive section 106 package' towards community infrastructure.
The scheme is set to finance a multi-use community building, public transport, healthcare, local highway improvements and the management of open spaces.
Councillor Gareth Eales, speaking from the public gallery, was concerned though that existing estates such as Kings Heath had been left out of the funding package, despite having to ‘bear the brunt’ of the development.
The major application had a late flurry of objections from residents, with more than 100 received in the last 24 hours before the meeting.
Councillor Gareth Eales added: "If we had a proper consultation you would have got an even better flavour of the feeling out there, and let me tell you there are not many happy bunnies."
But members of the planning committee decided to vote in favour of the application by seven votes to two.
Councillor Zoe Smith was one of the two to reject the scheme, saying: "We seem to be told that the relief road will be solving problems that will be started with the application, but we need this application to be approved to go ahead with the relief road. It seems like a circular argument to me.”
Both the borough and county councils had already pledged funding towards the construction of the relief road.
Only 10 per cent of the development will feature ‘affordable homes’, with 100 to be built in the first phase of the development, and 300 built overall.
Councillor Alan Bottwood said: "We would all like more affordable houses, but the government tells us we need houses, it doesn't say what mix it needs to be."
And Councillor Dennis Meredith added: "I'm in favour of this. There are people on the waiting list who will be over the moon that there will be more affordable homes.
"With the size of this development though, it's important a liaison group is put in place for residents."
And chairman Councillor Brian Oldham said: "10 per cent is small, but it's 300 affordable houses that we don't have at the moment. There are disadvantages and things we need to police. But the advantages outweigh them on this occasion.”
Speaking this morning Paul Burrell, an executive director of Pegasus Group, said: “This is a large and important urban extension that will take a number of years to deliver.
“The benefits of the scheme are many and we worked hard to present those benefits as fully and openly as possible to not only the council but also local residents.”
Simon McDonald, managing director of Persimmon Homes Midlands, added: “Dallington Grange is set to be a highly sought-after place to live.
“Persimmon will bring much-needed, modern and practical homes in a range of styles.”