Plans to extend iconic tourist attraction in Northampton submitted - but one resident has said he is "horrified" by the proposals

"I appreciate I may sound like an old man not wanting the development to proceed - I admit to being exactly that"

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 4:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 10:30 am

Plans to extend the Charles Rennie Mackintosh garden, in Derngate, have been submitted - but residents in the nearby Scholars Court have voiced their concerns with the proposals.

The Derngate Trust, which owns the iconic building, has applied to Northampton Borough Council (NBC) to extend the garden area behind numbers 74 - 82 Derngate.

The Trust owns the Mackintosh house at number 82 but leases the number 78 and 80 buildings from NBC.

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David (far right) and the Scholars Court residents standing behind the Mackintosh house

The properties, 78 – 82, form the visitor attraction comprising of museum, art galleries and a restaurant surrounding the renowned property at 78 Derngate, once owned by Mr and Mrs Bassett Loake and remodelled by the famous architect Charles Rennie Macintosh.

A Derngate Trust spokesman said in the planning papers: "This extension will form a two-storey glass structure to the rear of the property together with an external patio area and steps down to the existing garden, thus providing more space both internally and externally to enhance the visitor experience.

"The addition of the land will increase the size of the garden space with terracing and small retaining walls whilst enclosing the site with fencing and walls. Limited parking at the side of the new lawn area would be accessed from the existing road in Scholars Court."

The new parking area would only be available for use by staff members, not for visitors and the general public.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh house in the Derngate

However, a group of residents from Scholars Court have voiced their concerns and objections to the council.

Northampton South MP, Andrew Lewer, said this planning application would be a "triple win" for the town.

He said: “I warmly welcome the plans for 78 Derngate museum to buy back the derelict land that once formed the original garden. Their plans are to return part of it back to a garden and provide disabled parking.

"The money used to purchase this derelict land is coming from the successfully applied for £25 Million Towns Fund and forms part of exciting town regeneration plans. Culture and heritage will form the backbone of the town’s regeneration and the 78 Derngate museum is a shining example of this.

The plans

"I understand that the money received from the developer will be passed on to local homeless organisations. It is a triple win for Northampton; (disabled parking, an expanded garden and money donated to local homeless charities).”

Objection

David Miller, a resident in Scholars Court, has taken on the spokesman role of the Scholars Court residents. He says the plans would devalue his property, cause extra noise and be a general "nuisance" for those living in the area.

The pensioner said: "I appreciate I may sound like an old man not wanting the development to proceed, I admit to being exactly that.

"I have lived here for 11 years now, it took me a long time to get here. The area is ideal for someone my age: close to shops, park, hospital and the town centre.

"I am horrified with the plans. I believe the development of this nature will devalue my property. I don't want to have to move."

David has listed and sent his objections to NBC in a bid to stop the application from going ahead.

His objections are:

- The plot of land is located in a conservation area as defined by the local council

- There's already enough nearby parking in the area

- A development of this nature would devalue his property "dramatically"

- There are already private functions held at 82 Derngate during the summer months which create a "fair amount of noise", extending the garden would increase this

- If approved how long would it be before an application for extension of trading hours would be submitted?

- He has lived at his current address for 11 years and feels the rights of local residents are more important than those of a commercial enterprise

- As an OAP he cannot afford to move house, nor does he "wish to have to do so to cater to the whims of commercial gain"

- Despite not being listed as such, David says the area concerned is a haven for wildlife. He said: "While I am not David Attenborough, the courtyard is home to a wide variety of birds which would not normally be found so close to a town centre."

- The owners of the properties in question do not own that parcel of land, it is part of the Scholars Court residential development, David believes - Northampton Borough Council has been contacted about this

- An article published recently on the internet detailed areas within Northamptonshire protected from development, this falls within one of the areas specified, David said

He added: "I have received a response from the planning officer saying that my objections will be taken into consideration at any meeting to decide the outcome of the application, however, these are not being held as normal but by using Zoom. No date has been set for this meeting."

Northampton's Labour group leader, Councilor Danielle Stone, has also voiced her concerns with the application.

She said in the planning papers: "Please can I call this in on the grounds of inappropriate development that impinges on the amenity of residents in Scholars Court."

To view the application, click here.