Heartbroken residents will see their garages demolished after council approves Northampton housing scheme

Heartbroken residents will see their garages demolished after a planning application to replace them with two new homes was approved by councillors.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 5:16 pm
John Connolly and Ann Brooks' campaign to save the garages at Keswick Drive was not enough to convince councillors to refuse planning permission

Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) had applied to knock down the 20 garages at Keswick Drive, in Boothville, but faced fierce opposition from 165 locals who signed a petition to keep them.

An original application had been deferred by Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee in December so officers and NPH could examine whether some of the garages could be saved.

But the new application, approved by the planning committee on Tuesday (March 19), heard that there were ‘structural issues’ with some of the garages, an assertion disputed by residents who used them.

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NPH said it couldn't find any way to save the garages

Ann Brooks, who lives next to the garages and leases one of them, told councillors that residents had also been poorly consulted.

She said: “Yet again I find myself in front of you, and nothing has changed since the last time. I have not received any communication and feel like I’ve been discriminated against for being a spokesperson for the Save Our Garages campaign. I have not been offered any alternative garage.

“The local community don’t deserve to have their garages demolished. The 165 people who signed this petition should be listened to.”

Matthew Berry, from NPH, told councillors the application needs to be viewed in the context of lots of small applications being brought forward which will deliver 200 affordable homes in the town.

Nicky McKenzie, assistant director of housing at NPH, says they have 3,677 people on the housing register.

She says 13 of the 20 garages at Keswick Drive were being used, but she accepted that NPH were not currently letting out garages. Residents say they would be full if they were.

Mrs McKenzie says that all residents will be offered a replacement garage, with the best case scenario seeing a new garage 48 metres further away than current, with the worst case scenario being 137 metres away.

The planning committee passed the application, with one of its members, Councillor Matt Golby, saying: “We’ve heard from the residents and we have to judge each application on its merits. But new housing is a big significant factor.”

And Arthur McCutcheon added: “Where do you draw the boundaries? We work as councillors for the whole borough, so I think we should make our contribution on that basis.”

The residents had been backed in saving the garages by their ward councillor Paul Joyce.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “It’s very disappointing. It feels like residents have not had their concerns addressed. One hundred and sixty five people have put their names to this petition because it does impact a lot of people and some residents are concerned about losing their garage.

“I guess it boils down to the fact there isn’t enough housing stock, and this is what it has come down to.”