Controversial development approved

TOWCESTER residents have slammed planning authorities after the principle of a controversial development proposal for more than 80 homes was approved.

People living on the Belle Baulk Estate have been joined by members of Towcester Town Council in their criticism of South Northants Council and the West Northants Development Corporation over the handling of the application.

Last Wednesday WNDC approved an outline planning application by Barwood Securities for 82 homes on the land separating the existing estate from the A43 and the River Tove flood plain. The approval came despite the vast majority of estate residents objecting to the plans being backed up by south Northants MP Andrea Leadsom.

Criticism has been levelled at SNC with some saying a weak planning policy is allowing developers to push through plans which are not wanted locally.

Belle Baulk resident Nicks Holder spear headed the opposition campaign and gathered more than 180 signatures on a petition objecting to the plan. Dozens also wrote to WNDC to register their objections. Mr Holder said : “The problem with Interim Rural Housing from my point of view SNC do not have a provable five year land supply and as such relies on the Interim Rural Housing Policy, which basically means this site can be considered for development.”

Mr Holder said he was frustrated by the decision by vowed to fight on as the application reaches the full planning approval stage.

A spokesman for SNC said as a planning authority they follow robust regulations to ensure the right locations are developed and added: “This is being replaced by the new Local Development Framework Core Strategy, which is being prepared by the West Northamptonshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee.

“The Interim Rural Housing Policy was adopted to inform the decision making process, and provides a robust decision-making framework whilst giving certainty to developers and landowners. This policy does not allow development anywhere, and indeed most of the permissions approved under it have not been in Towcester. Publication of the Towcester Masterplan prior to WNDC approval of development at Belle Baulk would not have changed their decision.”