Controversial plans for 132 homes on former Parklands school site approved

An indicative masterplan of the layout of the approved site at Parklands
An indicative masterplan of the layout of the approved site at Parklands

Controversial plans to build 132 homes on a former school site in Parklands have been granted outline planning permission by councillors, despite a heavy turnout against the application from residents.

Northamptonshire County Council is applying to build the dwellings on the old Parklands Middle School site on Devon Way, which has been vacant since the buildings were demolished in 2011. It had also been used as a campus for Northampton School for Girls up until 2008.

The site has been vacant since 2008 and buildings were demolished in 2011

The site has been vacant since 2008 and buildings were demolished in 2011

Parklands residents turned out in force at The Guildhall last night (January 22) to make their objections to the plans known to members of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee.

Their calls for the scheme to be objected were spearheaded by ward borough councillor Mike Hallam.

He told fellow councillors: “Parklands only has one major route in and out, and that is Spinney Hill Road. We have three schools on that road, and more than 50 per cent of the pupils come from elsewhere across the town.

“The times of 9am, 3.30pm and 5pm are times when people know to avoid Parklands. Traffic has been queuing back almost 50 cars and along the length of the road. I was amazed to read no mention of this in the traffic report.

“It also mentions about improving junctions near Morrisons, which I welcome. But there is no mention about improving the roads in the estate. There is simply nowhere for these extra cars to go. This scheme should be rejected, and the residents behind me think it should be rejected.”

Parklands resident Peter Travers has lived at his family home on Spinney Hill Road for 35 years, and told the planning committee: “There is inadequate capacity and the survey doesn’t take into account school drop off times. There is nose to tail traffic already, and the pressures on existing facilities won’t be able to cope.”

But David Walton, from The Environment Partnership - the agents acting for the county council - said that the ‘community had been listened to’ during consultation.

He said: “The number of homes has been reduced from more than 180. I understand the views and concerns from residents but it has been demonstrated that there is safe access, and there has been no objections from any of the statutory organisations.”

After hearing from the public speakers, councillors on the planning committee hotly debated the application.

The provision of 35 per cent affordable housing within the scheme swayed many of the ten members.

Councillor Alan Bottwood said: “Given that we need houses I will be supporting this application. I think delays at school time happen in a lot of places, and it’s often down to parents not parking properly.”

But his Conservative colleague Cllr Andrew Kilbride was one of four to vote against the scheme, saying: “The pressure on the junctions will be enormous. I want the houses but I’m concerned that this would lead to a major blockage.”

Ultimately it was voted through by six votes to four, but the scheme being discussed by councillors was only an outline planning application.

It means that although it was approved, the county council will have to come back with a separate application detailing the layout, scale and appearance of the homes at a later date.