Director ‘disappointed’ after plans to demolish his nurseries are refused

The application was refused by South Northants Council
The application was refused by South Northants Council

A director of a family-run plant nurseries is ‘disappointed’ that plans to replace it with flats have been refused.

Agent IT&RP Morgan was ready to demolish Payne’s Nurseries in Watling Street East, Towcester, in favour of 24 one and two bed apartments.

But at a planning meeting this afternoon, South Northants Council (SNC) refused the plans as they said it would result in the loss of an employment site while the new building would be ‘harmful to the character’ of the area.

The nurseries, established in 1945, is one of the oldest surviving businesses in the town but Ian Morgan, who runs it with his brother, Paul and mum, Marguerite, hopes to sell up soon because he is tired of working long hours.

He said: “I’m in my 60s, I’ve worked 80 to 100 hour weeks for 50 years. How many people have done that?

“We have got to look to the future and we have not been getting support to run the business from the council but we will look at the reasons for refusal and see what action we will take.”

Towcester Local History Society objected to the plans because they said there was a good chance of finding Roman and medieval artefacts.

The Highways Agency said there was no evidence of how access and parking would be adequate and safe.

It also said there was not enough evidence from the agent to show the impact on the surrounding road network.

The council agreed with these objections and also criticised the plans for not including affordable housing.

As the 24-flat development is over the 15-dwelling threshold, 10 (40 per cent) affordable homes should be provided but plans were for eight one-bed apartments and 16 two-bed apartments.

In their report, SNC planning officers said the site was in a prominent location in the town and although the building did not reflect the town’s Georgian or Victorian architecture, the modern design of flats was considered to be ‘detrimental to the character and appearance of the street scene’.

IT&RP Morgan planned to sell the 0.29 hectare site between the A5 Watling Street East and the River Tove to developers.

Payne’s Nurseries, which has five full-time members of staff and one part-time employee, will continue to run its business until a buyer can be found.

Towcester Town Council supported the plans but requested that a traffic survey was carried out.