There has been strong reaction from residents to plans for 450 new homes and a primary school to be built in Daventry.
The application from Landform Estates for homes on Mickle Well Park to the north of the town was given planning permission by Daventry District Council on Wednesday March 11.
“The floodgates are now open for every speculative developer to submit planning applications and take no notice of the joint core strategy, which the same councillors voted for less than three months ago. A precedent has now been set.Miranda Joseph, vice chairman of the Mickle Well Park Opposition Group
The new site will also see a two-form entry primary school, a community hall, a medical centre, a shop, open space and allotments.
Members of the Mickle Well Park Opposition Group were joined by Welton residents in the protest held before the meeting. Around 75 people attended the protest and then heard the decision made by the committee.
Officers had recommended the proposal by Landform Estates be given planning permission.
There were several people who spoke to the meeting against the plans including Tony Dodd from Welton and Ian Gidley, a planning consultant working on behalf of the Mickle Well Park Opposition Group.
The meeting also heard from Jeff Smith from Welton Parish Council and Wayne Howard, a district councillor for the Hill ward of Daventry who spoke against the proposal. His fellow councillors Catherine Lomax and Abigail Campbell were also critical of the plans. However, Sheila Game fro mDaventry Town Council spoke in support of the application.
A motion was put forward by Cllr Maureen Luke and seconded by Cllr Cecile Irving-Swift to reject the application. However, this was turned down following a debate which lasted an hour-and-a-half.
There were five votes to approve the application and four against the proposal with one abstention
Erik Pagano from Landform Estates said: “We are delighted with the decision. It’s a really good housing scheme, and one that is good for Daventry and its people.
“There are considerable benefits to Daventry and the surrounding villages – economic, social and cultural.
“First, the economic advantage. Landform Estates – and its partners – will be financially contributing more than £6 million directly into improving the site and the surrounding area in a variety of ways.
“These include circa £1.25 million towards funding the new Weedon/Flore bypass, funds to Stagecoach to divert the Daventry to Rugby bus via the site, new bus routes into the site, new serviced allotments, improvements to the canal towpath, a substantial financial contribution to help Daventry town centre with improvements, money for the Phoenix Youth Centre to help rebuild the gym and modernise the premises, land for a new NHS and medical facility on the site as well as other contributions to community and sports centres.”
Mr Pagano added there are now section 106 agreements and detailed designed matters, but estimated that after these issues were resolved the scheme could be completed with 450 homes in four-and-a-half years.
Concerns were raised at the meeting about whether the primary school would be built, fearing a similar situation with the proposed school on Middlemore.
Mr Pagano said: “The 4.7 acres of land for the school will be secured under the section 106 agreement for Northamptonshire County Council (NCC), which has stated that it intends to build a two-form entry primary school for 420 pupils on the site. The promise of land is a legal obligation which we have agreed with the council and means that it cannot be used for any other purpose.
“Once consent is granted, NCC will start building the school. It has already said it intends to build all of the school facilities as a single phase, as this achieves economies of scale, although it would probably only occupy half of the classes initially and occupy the remainder as pupil demand rises.
“Again, it is difficult to know how long that occupation build-up process may take – you should ask NCC – but this could be ready within two years.”
However, the news hasn’t been universally welcomed with many lamenting the decision – especially as just before Christmas the joint core strategy was adopted designed to protect certain sites against development.
Miranda Joseph, vice chairman of the Mickle Well Park Opposition Group, said: “Daventry is in great need of so many more infrastructure fundamentals before any more housing estates should be approved. The ones we currently have are still not finished, schools are promised and then not delivered or delayed.
“Now, another arable farm will be lost forever and not to mention our countryside. Daventry is supposed to be a market town, but we will have no farms left to grow any produce for market at this rate.
“The Mickle Well Park Opposition Group feels let down by Daventry District Council.
“A third of the councillors either did not attend the planning meeting or abstained from voting, as they know the ramifications of giving the green light to this housing proposal.
“The floodgates are now open for every speculative developer to submit planning applications and take no notice of the joint core strategy, which the same councillors voted for less than three months ago. A precedent has now been set.
“The action group is now escalating the decision to Westminster and considers the matter by no means over.
“I would urge local residents to carefully consider who they vote for in the upcoming local council elections. We need councillors who listen to it’s residents – a skill that seems to be clearly lacking with the majority of our current town and district Council.” Anybody looking to join the continuing fight against the development can get in touch with the group by visiting www.facebook.com/micklewellopposition
There was also disappointment from people in Welton, the nearest village to the development.
Villager Tony Dodd said: “This will have a very dangerous impact on Welton.
“I imagine that as a result of this application there will be many people in Welton who will be putting their houses up for sale. This will in turn destroy the local community.
“I am disappointed by the decision.”
Abigail Campbell, a district councillor for the ward of Braunston and Welton, added: “I’m really disappointed by the decision, and disappointed that only nine members of the planning committee voted, and five of the 15 were absent.
“Welton put its faith in the core strategy, adopted democratically and after lengthy consultation just a few months ago. The core strategy defines how Daventry should develop. But it seems as though it counts for little.
“Parishes are working hard on their neighbourhood plans; there is huge pressure on planning authorities across the country to put Local Plans in place. To what purpose? I wonder whether Mickle Well may have just sounded the death knell for localism.”
A number of people also got in touch with the Daventry Express following the approval to register their disappointment with the decision.
Kevin Capes from the Lang Farm estate in Daventry said: “The result of the vote was also far from conclusive with five votes to four with one member abstaining. This shows a high level of uncertainty within the council members and for me should not have been enough of a majority for such an important decision.”
Chris and Geoff Smith from Welton said: “This speculative application constitutes the biggest threat to the integrity and identity of Welton in a millennium.”
Mr Pagano has outlined the time scale of the development.
He stated: “The partner in this scheme is Orbit Homes, one of the biggest private and affordable housing developers in the country. We will work with Orbit on detailed plans and the reserve matters, which need to be settled with DDC. We hope it can be achieved within the next year and the scheme started.
“Phase one of the project for around 150 units will take about 14 months – infrastructure into the site such as the new access road, opening up and servicing the land for the new school for NCC to start work.
“At this stage we will probably be working with two private housebuilders and one affordable house developer and our aim is for 150 houses to be built at this stage, including 12 six self-build. Phases two and three will take approximately another 14 months each with 150 units each, including another 12 self-build.”