Northampton Partnership Homes defends consultation with residents over garage demolition applications

Northampton Partnership Homes has defended the level of consultation with residents for some of its recent planning applications.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 7:41 pm
Updated Monday, 1st April 2019, 7:46 pm
Northampton Partnership Homes is knocking down hundreds of garages to build 200 new homes across the town

A recent planning committee of Northampton Borough Council heard from two separate groups of residents that they felt that the communication from Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), which manages the housing stock for the council, had been ‘poor’.

Resident Ann Brooks told the planning committee on March 19 she had 'not received any communication’ about revised plans to knock down garages next to her home in Keswick Drive in Boothville. She was backed up by ward councillor Paul Joyce, who added: “I would like to think that some residents have not been a target, but I’m concerned with what has happened in the consultation. The local community feel like they are not being listened to throughout this.”

He criticised NPH at the meeting for failing to keep him informed. He told the planning committee he had heard from NPH once in three months, despite asking to be kept updated on the application.

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And residents of homes at Maidencastle in Blackthorn told councillors at the same meeting that NPH, after an initial evening meeting with residents, had gone forward with an application and had only notified a few residents ‘by email’.

Some of the councillors raised concerns at the emerging theme throughout the meeting, but NPH has defended the level of consultation in the two applications.

A spokesman said: “Consultation consisted of letters to garage licensees in the area and residents directly affected living adjacent to garage sites. In the letter we invited them to a consultation event at Eden Close Community Hub in Lakeview. We also included an offer of home visits for anyone who was unable to attend the consultation event.

“We sent a second letter out to residents inviting them to a second event. This also included the offer of home visits if they couldn’t attend.

“Feedback from the events helped inform the development of these plans. For example one of the garage sites previously designated for development was retained for garages. This was due to a concern about parking in the area. We reduced the size of some of the houses in the designs due to concerns about the overall size of the development.

“Anyone who had an existing garage on a proposed development site was offered an alternative garage if they wanted this. We mapped the distance from the garage licensees front door to the alternative proposed garage to make sure they were offered the nearest one. In some cases, these ended up being nearer than the garage they are currently renting.

“Where residents raise concern about highway safety, we followed this up with liaison to the Highways Authority. For example, with Keswick Drive concerns were raised about visibility splay. We made sure this was checked with the Highways Authority who confirmed the proposals were safe.

“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.”

Planning officers for the borough council said the Keswick Drive application had been the subject of public consultation ‘in line with the requirements of the council’s adopted Statement of Community Involvement in respect of planning applications’.