Controversial bid for car park extension over Battle of Northampton land likely to be shot down

Photo, taken via a drone-cam, shows Delapre Golf Centre at 9am on Monday, August 17. to the left of the shot is the area of topsoil removed for a car park extension.
Photo, taken via a drone-cam, shows Delapre Golf Centre at 9am on Monday, August 17. to the left of the shot is the area of topsoil removed for a car park extension.

A controversial golf club car park proposed on part of the supposed Battle of Northampton site is almost certain to be refused after receiving 217 objections.

Last year Delapre Golf Club removed a top layer of soil to extend its car park on Eagle Drive without permission.

A snippet from the archeological investigation at the site shows a late medieval brooch and lead shot assemblage was discovered there.

A snippet from the archeological investigation at the site shows a late medieval brooch and lead shot assemblage was discovered there.

The club launched a retrospective planning application for the car park and a new ball pit at the start of August, 2015 having completed an archeological survey of the land.

But claims in that planning document that “no significant items” were found by a trained metal detector sparked a furore among conservationists, with 217 people writing letters to Northampton Borough Council from across the UK, to object to the plans.

In fact a late “medieval brooch” and “lead shot assemblage” were found, which archeological experts said could be very significant.

The plan is now due to come up at the next borough council planning committee on March 15.

But officers have recommended it is refused, meaning the golf centre will have to put the layer of topsoil back how they found it.

Reports to the planning board state: “It has not been adequately demonstrated what the level of harm to the significance of the heritage asset... would be, or that this harm would be outweighed by any public benefit.”

The council’s own conservation department write in the report: “The application does not demonstrate the need for a car park extension or offer robust justification for the acknowledged harm to the heritage asset.

“Issues relating to the ball pit and associated works have not been addressed.”

The 217 objections were received from local, national and international objectors including the Richard III Society, the Battlefields Trust and Northampton Battlefield Society.

While some said no development should be allowed within a registered battlefield, others even questioned the need for the car park to be extended by 32 spaces, when many of the current bays are occupied by employees at Brackmills businesses throughout the week - rather than golfers.

The council papers conclude: “During the course of the application the applicants have been given the opportunity,through their agents, to provide further evidence of the degree of harm and the justification for such harm.

“Further details were provided and these were assessed but still found to be insufficient.”

The planning meeting will take place at the Guildhall on Tuesday, March 15 at 6.30pm.