Plans for 47 homes to the south of Towcester given final planning approval

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Councillors have given final approval to a 47-home development forming part of a major new extension to Towcester.

Members of South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee approved the application when it held its first virtual meeting on Thursday (April 23).

The scheme forms a small part of Southern Urban Extension (SUE), a larger development to the south of the town. The 47-home application, submitted by Persimmon Homes, neighbours The Folly Pub and had already been granted outline planning permission and was seeking permission for final details such as appearance, layout and scale..

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Although the final details of the scheme such as the design of the homes was approved, much of the debate focused on whether part of the site – which is currently designated as a space for allotments – should be designated as a new cemetery site, which had been demanded by Towcester Town Council.

The new homes will be built on the edge of TowcesterThe new homes will be built on the edge of Towcester
The new homes will be built on the edge of Towcester

A written submission from the town council says: “A new cemetery site within the Southern Urban Extension (SUE), which could be utilised for allotments until such time as burial space is needed, was the only tangible request made by Towcester Town Council from the outset of plans for the SUE.

“With a fast-growing population and Towcester due to double in size, burial space in the town is rapidly reducing. Towcester Town Council has a duty to provide land for burials and must be assured that this use for the site will be permitted. As such, it is requesting that a planning condition be imposed now which will allow this change of use when the need arises.”

But responding to the comments, the case planning officer for South Northamptonshire Council wrote: “Whilst at the time the outline planning permission was being considered it was noted that the allotment site could be utilised in the future for cemetery space, the outline permission did not formally reserve the allotment land for cemetery use. If there is a need in future for part of the allotments to be changed to a burial ground then a separate application will be required for a change of use.”

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Councillor Lisa Samiotis put forward a motion which asked for a decision on the scheme to be deferred until further discussions had taken place with the developer about the designated land.

She said: “I would be much more comfortable if we deferred this to another meeting once that has been dealt with. We can’t trust developers just to do this.”

But the council’s solicitor Matthew Barrett said deferring a decision would ‘set a bad precedent’ for the council as the cemetery issue had ‘no real connection’ to the application before councillors.

Councillor Samiotis withdrew her motion to defer a decision upon hearing the legal advice, but urged officers to make sure that conditions on section 106 infrastructure funds were amended to make the land available for use in the future as a cemetery.

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Planning officer Daniel Callis said that SNC would be awarded the land on a 999-year lease, so if there were no restriction, the council in theory could apply for a change of use for the land itself.

A number of residents next to the site had also complained that they were under the impression when they bought their homes there would be no houses on the opposite side of the road and that they would look out onto public open space.

But planning officers said this would be a ‘civil’ matter with the developers, and that from the council’s perspective there had ‘always been expected that there would be some housing here’.

Members of the planning committee eventually unanimously agreed to the proposals.