A solid majority gave the go-ahead for a £30 million project to regenerate a dilapidated part of Towcester’s town centre yesterday, despite impassioned pleas for a rethink,
In voicing Towcester Town Council’s opposition to the regeneration of Moat Lane, councillor Jim Lynch said they had never agreed to the relocation of South Northants Council to a new building as part of the project.
He said bringing the council offices into the centre of town will generate an enormous amount of traffic and added: “The traffic chaos will make the situation infinitely worse and strangle the ability of people to get into the town and for the traders to survive.”
Mr Lynch said the associated application to build 87 homes on the current district council office site at Springfields included a reduced developer contribution in order to make it viable, and that this would make it hard for SNC to negotiate with developers in the future.
As well as housing SNC the new civic building at the centre of the development will include a new library, a registrars office, meetings rooms and a cafe.
Confirmation also came the hotel in the original masterplan had been dropped and the number of residential properties increased from 41 to 58.
There will also be 440sqm of light industrial space and 1,335sqm of retail and restaurant space.
So far the project has attracted £15 million of investment which has already seen the restoration of Bury Mount.
As district ward member for Towcester Mill Andrew Wilby said until the West Northants Development Corporation designated the area a development area, attracting the investment, 98 per cent per cent of Towcester residents did not know Bury Mount existed.
He said they were lucky to have found development partner Morgan Sindal, and while there were comprises he believed it would be a success.
Mr Wilby added: “I strongly commend it to the committee. We are going to win prizes with this, and people will be pleased with this in the future.
“I am quite prepared to jump off a plank if they are not.”
A majority of the SNC planning committee agreed it was an exemplar project and approved the plans 10 to 1.