Parish council tells county that approval for Northampton relief road would be ‘unlawful’

A parish council has said councillors will have made an ‘unlawful decision’ if they grant planning permission for a new bypass in Northampton.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 5:19 pm
The county council's planning committee will determine the authority's own planning application for the North-West Relief Road

Boughton Parish Council has written to Northamptonshire County Council to say that the evidence base being used to support its proposals for the North-West Relief Road (NWRR) is ‘flawed and incomplete’.

In a letter to the county council’s development control officer, parish clerk Jayne Bunting says that legal counsel has advised the parish council that a decision to grant permission based on the current evidence base is unlawful.

The 1.6km road would link the the A428 Harlestone Road with the A5199 Welford Road, and has been submitted as a planning application by Northamptonshire County Council. Members of the county council’s planning committee will determine the authority’s own application.

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The North-West Relief Road's proposed route is shown in red

A report by Stirling Maynard Transportation Consultants, which was commissioned by the parish council to analyse the traffic impacts of the proposed new road, states there is ‘significant anecdotal evidence that the model is currently under forecasting traffic flows and capacity issues’. And a letter from the parish council’s legal advisors, Leigh Day, states that the future operational performance of two roundabouts showed that they would be subject to ‘exceptionally large delays by 2031’.

The law firm has advised the parish council that the current evidence is ‘not a safe basis’ on which to grant planning permission and would be ‘vulnerable to challenge in the courts’.

The letter from the parish to the county council states: “The traffic impact on Boughton is unacceptable and the mitigation proposals for Boughton village are wholly inadequate and incomplete, unsupported by any detailed analysis and their impacts have not been run through the model. The effect of the proposal on the Buckton Fields community and, in particular, the spine road linking Brampton Lane with Welford Road has been completely overlooked.

“This is an incomplete planning application and there is evidence and admissions throughout the application that it has been rushed in order to meet constrained timescales and funding deadlines. This is wholly unacceptable for a scheme of this scale.

“Whilst councillors recognise the need to improve road infrastructure in the county roads it must be fit for purpose with infrastructure that works.”

The parish council believes that the application should be withdrawn and tested with an updated transport model.

It adds: “Only then can the scale of any potential harms or benefits be known, and decision makers be in a position to make a fully informed decision.”

The planning committee meeting for the county council, which was due to determine the application for the road next Tuesday (November 19), has been postponed just days after the representation from Boughton Parish Council.

An email from the county council’s development control officer, Pete Moor, states: “The reason for the delay is that the planning authority is still awaiting representations from statutory consultees and the committee report not only needs to reflect these but also consider the other representations received last week.”

It is now expected that the planning application will be determined on December 17.

Councillor Jason Smithers, cabinet member for highways, had previously said: “Traffic modelling has been used to assess the impact of the developments and the new road. Findings indicate that building the NWRR is likely to present wide transport benefits by reducing traffic in some areas.

“Overall, the proposed scheme will provide an overall benefit to the wider highway network. However, there are impacts caused by the changes in routes which will increase traffic in other areas.”