Northampton councillors powerless over location of 26,000 houses after Daventry and South Northants ‘break promise’

Phil Larratt
Phil Larratt

A senior Northampton councillor has accused colleagues in Daventry and South Northamptonshire of doing a deal so new homes will be dumped on the edges of the county town.

Former leader Phil Larratt was one of four Northampton councillors who walked out of a Guildhall planning meeting last night on where 26,000 homes will be placed in the county.

He said he was disgusted that Daventry and South Northants had breached an agreement between all three authorities that the all-important chair of the committee should this year be from Northampton.

The significance of the Joint Planning Unit chairman is that, with all the authorities having equal numbers on the committee, the chair has the casting vote, in effect deciding where thousands of houses are placed. Councillor Larratt said that for the last two years, Daventry and South Northants had put houses on the edge of Northampton - albeit in their own districts - but collected the ‘new homes bonus’ cash for their own respective councils. Now Northampton has been denied the chance to redress the balance.

Councillor Larratt said: “They just want to plough on, building on the edge of Northampton and taking the money and running.

“They want to continue what they have been doing already, denying residents their right to speak.

“I will be talking to the leader today. We need to take legal action to make sure they adhere to the agreement.”

Asked why he and the other Tory councillors - Matt Golby, Jonathan Nunn and cabinet member for planning Tim Hadland - did not stay to influenece last night’s meeting he said it was clear to them they woudl be unable to affect any decisions.

He said: “Literally, what could we do?”

Alan Chantler, the new chairman at the centre of the row, said the meeting continued without any Northampton input and would do so in future if needs be.

He said: “Our view was that last year Northampton Borough councillors breached the agreement first by nominating one of their own [who was not elected].

“That led us to assume they were no longer interested in honouring the agreement.”

Patrick Cross, of Whitehills and Spring Park Residents Association said he was appalled by the behaviour of the councillors.

He said: “This only demonstrates a lack of co-operation, from all member councils to recognise the need for this and, and to work together on behalf of

constituents and rate payers in our county.

“I’m a lecturer and I was going to take my students along last night. I’m so glad I didn’t.”

Danielle Stone, Labour leader at the Guildhall, agreed that what Daventry and South Northants councillors did was wrong and self-interested, but urged

the Northampton councillors to swallow their pride.

She said: “I urge the Conservative Administration at the Borough Council to take a deep breath and get round the negotiating table and explain to their colleagues why it is unreasonable for Daventry and South Northants to gang up and work against Northampton’s interests.

“I understand it’s difficult but they need to stop the squabbling immediately.”