THE LATEST shake-up of the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation has seen the quango ordered to concentrate its efforts on five key expansion projects in Northampton.
Government minister Andrew Stunell visited the town yesterday and met members of the development corporation.
During the meeting, he told them the organisation – which was set up to push forward the regeneration of Northampton, Daventry and Towcester – should now focus on the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre, the re-building of Northampton Station, the redevelopment of the Nunn Mills area off Bedford Road and the improvement of the riverside in Northampton.
He said: “These are the schemes in Northampton that I want to be the core of the business the WNDC promotes in its remaining time.
“The intention is that they will push those projects very hard.
“They’ve not got all the cards in their hands, but I’ve certainly given them a very clear steer that they are their priority projects.”
Other changes announced by the minister will see the WNDC’s board cut from 13 members to nine, with the majority of them now being elected councillors.
The changes have been welcomed by the WNDC’s chairman, John Markham.
He said: “We’re focusing on transformational town centre schemes, including the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre and other key sites.
“The Government is clear that our specialist development powers are essential to the implementation of these projects which are complex, ambitious and hugely important for the future of the area.
“In Northampton alone, our programme could secure £900 million in private sector investment and around 10,000 new jobs.”
During his visit to the town, the Government minister would not be drawn on how long the WNDC would remain in existence. It has been suggested the controversial group could be wound up by 2012 or 2013 and a leaked Government document last week identified the WNDC as being among a number of quangos which are set for the chop.
But so far, the Government has only said the organisation will go “reasonably soon”.
Once the WNDC does go, its planning powers will return to councils in Northampton, Daventry and Towcester.