Northampton council house provider to be scrutinised following consultation complaints

Scrutiny councillors are set to cast their eyes over Northampton Partnership Homes in a bid to find out how it operates.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 5:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 5:43 pm
Northampton Partnership Homes runs the council's housing service

The council’s overview and scrutiny committee met for the final time this council year on Tuesday (April 30), and started to look at issues it could look at next year.

And one of the things it is set to report back on is on understanding the role of NPH, which manages the council’s housing services.

In particular, the chairman of the scrutiny panel, Councillor Jamie Lane, wants to examine how the organisation consults with residents in regard to planning applications.

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NPH has been heavily criticised by some residents at recent planning committees, who said that they failed to update them and communicate with them over a series of applications to knock down residential garages and replace them with homes.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Lane said: “I’m going to ask for a report from NPH on how they communicate and consult. It’s come up at a fair few planning committee meetings that people didn’t feel they were being consulted, and it came up at the last one again. We also have a whole list of their applications coming up soon, so it will be interesting to hear if it comes up again.”

Councillor Lane has witnessed the residents’ views firsthand as he also sits on the planning committee.

Recently, residents in Keswick Drive, Boothville, were backed up by their ward councillor Paul Joyce in labelling the communication ‘poor’.

But NPH rejected the claims, saying it had sent out letters and invited them to consultation events. It added: “One of the channels we have developed further is online, where we are now putting our early plans and designs on our website for pre-consultation before we submit an official plan to the council. This includes an online form that the public can submit direct to us and provide feedback on a development before being viewed publicly on the council’s planning portal.”

Nevertheless, it is a subject that the scrutiny committee wanted to examine, as part of a wider review of how the company operates.

The committee is also set to hold a full scrutiny review into addressing food poverty, which will tackle food recyling, growing your own produce and working with supermarkets. It will also set up a private working group to investigate knife crime.