Disused Northampton factory to be converted into flats after planning permission is approved

A disused three-storey factory near Dallington and St James will be converted into a number of flats after planning permission was granted by councillors.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 8:46 pm
The planning committee met at The Guildhall on Tuesday evening

The former Barker buildings, on Countess Road, have been derelict for years, becoming a ‘hive of anti-social behaviour’ in the process.

While some of the buildings will be demolished, most will be converted into 54 flats while the erection of a new three-storey building will also provide an additional 14 flats.

The scheme was granted approval by Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday evening (September 24) at The Guildhall, despite objections from ward councillor Gareth Eales.

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The former Barker buildings will become flats after planning permission was approved

Councillor Eales raised concerns over the amount of parking being offered as part of the scheme. It proposes 72 parking spaces – four of which are for visitors – for the 68-flat development.

He said: “Since the Barker building site has been derelict, it has been a hive for anti-social and criminal behaviour and as the local councillor I of course want something to be done with it. But I have some serious concerns about this particular planning application and must object to it.

“There is a crystal clear deficit of parking spaces. That means additional parking onto Countess Road, Lyttleton Road, Monmouth Road, Newport Road, Chepstow Close and Raymond Road. These are streets that are jammed as it is and adding these extra vehicles into the mix would be a disaster.

“Also there is nothing on offer for the local community, in the form of Section 106 monies, which should be used to mitigate the impact of a development like this on the local community and provide benefits or infrastructure.

“I am sick to the back teeth of seeing housing developments get approved and to hell with the impact on existing residents. Yes, absolutely we need to build more homes, but they have to be schemes that benefit everyone.”

However, there were no objections from the county council’s highways department, with Councillor Eales criticising the ‘rose tinted’ officer’s report on parking and highways.

Previously, the planning committee has already granted permission for a 54-flat scheme, but this new updated application required further approval from the councillors.

Paul Smith, of Apex Planning Consultants, represented the applicants Homegrown Property Development.

He said: “We would ask that you afford significant weight to the fact that no objections have been raised by statutory organisations.

“This will deliver significant enhancement for the area, as it has become a place for anti-social behaviour. This will utilise a brownfield site and contribute to your five year housing supply.”

Speaking about why the application didn’t feature any financial contributions to the community or affordable homes, he added: “It’s reasonable to expect a 15-20 per cent return, and it is stated in this report that even without the section 106 funds and affordable homes, the return at best would be 11 per cent. If this was then included, it would be a loss making investment – no-one would build on it and it would fall into further disrepair.”

Councillors debated the application at length, but eventually unanimously approved the scheme.

Councillor Jane Birch said: “It’s a tricky one because the building needs work. We did approve it a year ago, which makes it very difficult to go back on what we voted for before.”

And committee chairman Councillor Brian Oldham added: “In my opinion the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”