The first phase of the expansion of a Northamptonshire town has been given planning approval.
The first homes built as part of the long awaited 2,750 home urban expansion of Towcester could be occupied by spring 2017.
The development will also pave the way for construction of a relief road diverting trunk road traffic, and in particular heavy goods vehicles, away from the town centre.
On Thursday, July 28 members of South Northants Council’s development control committee approved a reserved matters application giving the go ahead for the first phase of construction of 246 new homes, including 25 affordable homes.
Outline proposals to extend the town had been first put forward in 2007, but were not progressed until South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) re-assumed control of the application from the West Northants Development Corporation in mid-2012. And after one major revision to improve the quality of the development, it was finally approved in early 2015.
Cllr Roger Clarke, SNC’s portfolio holder for planning and environment said: “This is a significant step forward in the expansion of Towcester and the delivery of a relief road to relieve congestion in the town.
“The proposals are of a high quality design that will enhance a major gateway into the town, create new employment opportunities and strengthen the retail vitality of the town centre.”
The applicant, Bloor Homes South Midlands, said construction will start in September 2016, with the first homes complete by spring 2017.
This first phase of construction will last five years during which time additional phases will commence and work on the entire expansion could take up to 15 years dependant on the strength of the local housing market.
A condition of the planning permission is that the relief road must be completed before the 1,016th home is occupied.
In addition to the 2,750 homes and a relief road, the planning permission granted in 2015 also includes: employment land to support light industry or warehousing, a main local centre (including a food store), retail units, public house/restaurant, doctors’ surgery/medical centre, nursery/crèche and community hall).
There will also be: a local retail centre (corner shops, takeaways); mixed use commercial area to accommodate a hotel with conference and leisure facilities, two new primary schools, areas of public open space and strategic landscaping, incorporating new formal sports pitches, and combined community facility and pavilion with parking, new allotments, surface water/flood management works, engineering works for drainage and utilities.
Bloor Homes estimates that 4,125 jobs will be created while the extension to the town is being constructed and that the three new employment areas will generate 2,800 permanent new jobs by the time construction work has finished.
New facilities such as a cricket pitch and pavilion, a healthcare centre, a community centre, a children’s play area and two new primary schools will be built, while £4.1million will be invested in secondary education provisions.
Vanessa Macnee, regional sales director for Bloor Homes, said: “Our designers and planners have spent years making sure every detail of this development is just right and that we will be enhancing Towcester in every way that we can.
“The site will be generating millions of pounds’ worth of investment and improvements to the town, as well as new facilities like the primary schools and community centre.
“Not only that, but it will be creating thousands of jobs for the area, both during and after the construction of the site.
“We’re very proud to be bringing our high-quality new homes to Towcester and can’t wait to unveil them to the public early next year.”
As part of the planning agreement, the developers will be donating £1.2 million towards the bus service in the area, £940,000 to build a new community centre, £1.1 million to build a new healthcare centre, £11.5 million to build two new primary schools and £3.5 million towards improving open spaces.