Disputed vote on plans for 26,000 homes for Northampton ‘was not legal’

vote dispute Councillor Chris Over made the casting vote.
vote dispute Councillor Chris Over made the casting vote.

A disputed vote on plans to build up to 26,000 homes in Northampton by 2029 will be reconsidered, after a procedural flaw was exposed.

The proposals state that 41,760 homes will need to be built across West Northamptonshire by 2029, with 25,758 of these in Northampton borough.

The latest version of the plan, called the joint core strategy, was voted through at a meeting of the West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit last month.

But an email sent to councillors, which has been seen by the Chronicle & Echo, said the vote was not valid.

It has since emerged that a substitute councillor was not entitled to vote, as their attendance at the meeting had not been ratified in time.

In the email, democratic services officer, Peter Storey, said: “Following the meeting it subsequently came to light that there had been a procedural flaw regarding the substitution of a member present and voting at the meeting.

“The required formal written notice was given later than the specified 24-hour minimum period required, although the chair was in fact aware of the likely absence of the member and the consequent need for a substitute many days previously.”

Residents’ groups opposing the plans want the meeting to be run in full again.

Angela Bartlett, secretary of Whitehills and Spring Park Residents’ Association, said: “As we see it, if this councillor’s vote was void then the plan would not be going forward for consultation.

“We are concerned the meeting to be convened will ratify the voting and not truly reconsider the decision.”

The new vote will be taken next month, on a date to be decided.

Mrs Bartlett said the proposal is to hold the new meeting in Daventry, which would be problematic for Northampton residents wishing to attend.