Accelerated housing and investment in infrastructure will form a big part of a new Growth Deal Northampton will aim to strike with the Government.
The town should play its part in becoming part of the Oxford-Cambridge growth corridor, Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet has agreed.
The Government sees the area between Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford as making a ‘major contribution’ to the economy and housing supply up to 2050.
And Theresa May’s establishment are keen to lay down ‘growth deals’ with areas within it. Oxfordshire and greater Cambridge have already struck deals, with negotiations ongoing with Milton Keynes and Bedford.
Now Northampton wants to get in on the action, and the cabinet has approved negotiations to start with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for the town to develop its own growth deal.
Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, told cabinet last Wednesday (June 13): “The Oxford-Cambridge growth corridor is key to the regeneration of the area, and the next step is to work with our neighbours.
“This is a very good step forward and will demonstrate to government that with some encouragement and some funding, we can do great things.”
The deal would see the council commit to more housing and employment opportunities, and in return the Government would offer a comprehensive funding package which could include money to support upfront infrastructure and freedom from certain planning requirements.
This would allow the council, cabinet papers say, to ‘offer the best chance that growth is promoted in sustainable locations’.
And the extra planning freedoms would allow the council to put ‘more effort into facilitating the delivery of new housing’.
Responding to the proposed scheme, Liberal Democrat councillor Sally Beardsworth said: “This is a very important document. Anyone who doesn’t want accelerated housing growth is not looking out for the future of the people here.
“I was really pleased when I read about the funding for upfront infrastructure. With temporary accomodation going up we really have to build more affordable houses for people to move into.”
But Labour councillor Arthur McCutcheon was more sceptical, saying: “This will require the most careful scrutiny over the next three or four years. This authority should be deciding its own future, not leaving it in the hands of anyone else.”
Two growth deal proposals are understood to be in development for the two proposed unitary authorities of West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire.
Northampton Borough Council is set to commit to the proposals for the west of the county, with Councillor Hadland adding: “We need to get this process up and running alongside the local government reorganisation.”