There has been a mixed reaction to plans for a new-look college campus in Daventry along with 130 homes on the same site.
The proposal was launched at two consultation events on Friday and Saturday. There is to be new homes, a new college site as well as two full-sized football pitches and some green open space.
It has prompted an angry reaction from some who are sad about the loss of green open space on the site.
Steve Lawes, who is from the College Ground Action Group formed at the beginning of the year, said: “We are most concerned about the loss of green space on the site, up to three quarters of the space has gone under the current plan.
“We are very disappointed.
“A new building for the college will not necessarily make it better.
“The most important thing is to improve the quality of teaching, which will make the college better.”
The group is about to submit a community asset application to Daventry District Council to protect the green open space from development.
Jacquie Ward, a resident from the Grange estate in Daventry, said: “It bewilders me that the powers that be can’t see what is staring them in the face; all they seem intent on doing is knocking things down and building houses, if they carry on like this that is all there will be in Daventry – houses. When the college first announced it had been given a grant it said that it would only build houses on the footprint of what is already there.
“The proposal for houses on the college site is not only where the college is at present but almost all over the playing fields. Why are they intent on spoiling what I and many other residents in Daventry consider to be an asset to our town?”
A spokesman for the Friends of Daventry Open Spaces, a residents group aiming to protect green space, said: “These plans show approximately 60 per cent of the green open space, including three valuable sports pitches, will be lost to the community – this will be totally unacceptable to the many families in Daventry, who, over the past 40 years have come to watch their children benefit socially and physically from playing organised football and other sports on this land.
“Perhaps Northampton College should consider more carefully the well-being of local children and their families before attempting to justify the sale of this irreplaceable recreational land.”
The college said in August that homes would only be considered for where the current buildings and car park are located.
A spokesman for the college said the original proposal last summer was based on re-locating the college to a new site elsewhere in the town. It was later decided to re-build the new centre on the existing site at Badby Road West so it could deliver better facilities and the most cost effective solution.
The college also added the new plans had a lower density of housing than under the previous plans.
The leader of Daventry District Council also suggested that this could be the price that people have to pay to have better education in the town.
Cllr Chris Millar said: “We have to be realistic and know there is going to be some housing across the district. Therefore when the housing does come it is about maximising the benefits for people in the area. We have to be pragmatic and a new college will provide an educational boost and a good benefit for the district.”
The college’s principal, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said after the consultation: “There was lots of support with people telling us that they welcomed our plans and were pleased to see that the proposed master plan for the site retained a good deal of open space and two full-size sports pitches.
“Many people commented that they found the proposed development, including plans for residential use of the site, to be sympathetic with the immediate environment and sensitive to the current character of the area.
“We were delighted that a number of people told us they felt our plans would contribute well to our agenda of keeping education local and many of them asked what plans we had for adult education at the new site.
“Others that attended the event, or have contacted us since, told us that they had some concerns about the loss of green space within the overall site and felt that there were too many houses in the plan.
“In fact, the development is relatively low density compared with many other similar projects.
“Some people expressed concern about the impact on traffic, parking and access to and from the site. These issues will be addressed robustly by planners as we take into account feedback from the consultation.
“Some concern was also voiced about the loss of playing fields but we will retain two full-sized sports pitches that could be divided up into smaller pitches for training purposes. It is our intention to make these available to the community in the same way as we do now.
“The college and its team of planners and architects will work through the detailed feedback over the coming weeks as we move towards the submission of a planning application. I would like to thank those who have already offered their support and assure others that their concerns will be taken into account and we will do all we can to deliver a development that reduces any perceived adverse impact on the neighbourhood.”