Plans for 300 homes and a primary school at Grange Park refused by councillors

Plans to build 300 homes and a new primary school at Grange Park have been rejected by councillors.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:33 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:34 pm

South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee went against the advice of its own officers in refusing the scheme when it met yesterday afternoon (February 6) at The Forum in Towcester.

The site is bordered to the north by Alamein Wood – with residential dwellings and a logistics park to the north of this – and to the south-west by the M1.

But the scheme, submitted by Manor Oak Homes, had been met with a wave of objections from more than 150 residents, the ward councillors, parish councils in Grange Park and Quinton and from Sports England.

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The proposed new homes for Grange Park, next to the M1, were refused by South Northants councillors

The main complaints focused on congestion, poor transport links and air quality. Public speakers said the scheme would add a thousand cars to the already busy network, while another said it breached parts of the council’s Core Strategy planning policy.

Councillor Andrew Grant, the ward councillor for Grange Park, urged members of the committee to think carefully against the scheme, and called for a decision to be deferred so members could visit the site.

He said: “This application is probably in the worst possible location to give a great quality of life, especially adjacent to the noisy and polluting M1, and removed from any close access to shops and buses.

“Effectively the new community for some would feel like living in a prison, sadly without the benefits of free cooked food or television.”

But the agent for the applicants Manor Oak Homes said the site would help ‘go a long way to addressing a chronic non-delivery of new homes in the area’. He added it would ‘enhance’ the area and says if approved construction would start by early 2022 and finish by 2025/26.

But members of the committee didn’t seem keen, and instead debated whether to defer and hold a site visit or just to reject the scheme outright.

A motion from Councillor Phil Bignell to defer and hold a site visit was then rejected by the committee.

Sensing that they may be about to vote against the scheme, the council’s assistant director for planning policy Jim Newton said SNC should be supporting sites in the right locations and said, in his view, this was a ‘right location’. He added that he would be ‘concerned’ if the authority refused the scheme.

But councillors on the committee disagreed with Mr Newton. Councillor Steven Hollowell argued that it breached a number of planning policies, and said: “Do we really want a primary school with young children that close to a motorway with in excess of 100,000 vehicles using it?

“I realise rejecting this will have financial impacts on the council, but I would spend our last penny in resisting this.”

And Councillor Sandra Barnes said if they approved this scheme they would effectively be subjecting residents to ‘social isolation’.

All but one of the 12 councillors on the committee refused the scheme, with Councillor Ken Pritchard abstaining. Although the scheme has been refused by councillors, it could still be subject to an appeal from the developers.