THE offer of £340,000 towards the improvement of public infrastructure as part of the Moat Lane regeneration has been called ‘derisory’ by members of Towcester Town Council.
Last week the town council’s planning committee said the original plan to provide a vibrant extension to the town centre had been watered down, and now provided little additional benefit to the town.
In December South Northants Council and development partner Morgan Sindall submitted a planning application for the regeneration of Moat Lane, including 57 residential units, commercial space, and a new civic building which would bring library and registrar services under one roof.
Controversially SNC also decided to move out of its 28-year-old office block at Springfields and into the new civic building to ensure it could attract a developer to the project.
A second planning application outlined plans to demolish the Springfields office block and replace it with 87 new homes.
In a statement the town council pointed out that developers of another site in Towcester are contributing around £2million towards infrastructure improvement for 82 new homes.
Town council planning commitee chairman Jim Lynch said not only were SNC setting a dangerous precedent accepting a reduced contribution towards infrastructure, but also risked exacerbating existing parking and traffic problems and damaging town trade by including insufficient parking.
Mr Lynch said: “Towcester Town Council understands the problems facing SNC. The development was put together several years ago when the economy was much more vibrant. Current conditions have forced a major rethink and, sadly, the plans as they are now provide very few benefits for Towcester.”
Members of the planning commitee also objected to the absence of affordable housing in the Moat Lane proposals, and the nine per cent affordable housing in the Springfields development, compared the usual expectation of between 20 and 40 per cent. The commitee voted unanimously to officially object to the Moat Land and Springfields planning applications as they currently stand.
A SNC spokesman said the project prepared the town centre for the southern expansion, and the subsequent increase in footfall would make the development viable. They also said the new retail and residential unit had already attracted strong interest and they were looking to increase parking.