The leader of Daventry District Council sees a potential growth deal as a ‘real opportunity to build something special’ in West Northamptonshire.
Daventry District Council, along with South Northamptonshire and Northampton Borough councils, has endorsed the principle of a ‘growth deal’ for the western part of the county, which would see more houses built in return for greater planning freedoms and infrastructure funding.
Currently, the West Northamptonshire area needs to provide 2,267 homes per year, amounting to 70,277 before 2050. The growth deal would see that figure increase by 42 per cent up to 100,000 units.
Council leader, Councillor Chris Millar said: “We are part of a far bigger picture. We see this as an opportunity for the West Northamptonshire area to put forward a deal at a time that we’re negotiating a unitary, so that’s another strand of it. I think it’s important that we support this. There’s a real opportunity to build something special for communities here and also get benefits.”
Cabinet member for the economy, regeneration and development, Councillor David James, introduced the growth deal by saying: “Northamptonshire has been earmarked as one of those counties that is likely to have a substantial amount of housing over the next few years, a continuing saga I’m afraid.
“So irrespective of a growth deal, Northamptonshire will have housing forced on us by virtue of the national policy framework.
“This is an attempt to seize the initiative. Stage one we would be looking at more funds from the government to actually do all the preparations identified with developments. This means we can build healthy and sustainable communities and give people a bit of space and hopefully put to bed the sort of developments we’ve seen in this county that have tight layouts such as Hemmingwell in Wellingborough - those type of developments which are more often than not repositories for disadvantaged people. This would be healthy, sustainable developments.”
But some members of the council did raise concerns at the strategy meeting on October 11.
Councillor Jo Gilford said: “I do support this. But infrastructure is very important such as buses and health facilities. For me, infrastructure funding has been more materialistic, we must not forget rural transport. That must be a high priority.”
She was also told that new settlements would be likely as part of the growth deal, but that extensions to current villages could not be ruled out.
Councillor Catherine Lomax also asked: “The housing numbers quoted here concern me. The government’s figures for housing are being challenged and reduced by researchers who have looked at them. We don’t know what the scenery will look like in three years time let alone 30.
“Over the last couple of decades, in this district we have been under significant pressure from predatory developers. It just looks to me like we could be opening the floodgates to a repetition of that over 30 years, and we can’t afford that and need to restrain that in some way.”
The growth deal has not been confirmed yet, but all three of the district and borough councils, as well as the county councils, have now agreed in principle to move ahead with the project.