Not in our back yard – so often the immediate response of communities anywhere when they catch a mere whiff of plans to build more houses or offices and eradicate another patch of green space.
Some objections come down to a mere fear of change while some come down to worry that existing infrastructure – roads, schools or hospitals – won’t be able cope with more people living in an area.
But there are also pressures on the side of the planners and developers.
Not only are local planning units under pressure from the Government to provide more housing and accommodate a predicted rising need for new homes, but in recent years developers have also proven reluctant to commit to certain projects because of the economic uncertainty faced by Britain as a whole.
Yet plans must be made and now the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (JPU) made public its draft policies and plans on how Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough will develop by 2031.
The unit’s documents make clear the provisional “big picture” for the next two decades in the north of the county; proposals they hope will not only take into account the extra housing needed but also the areas in which more jobs can be created.
People now have until October 15 to comment on the policies in the hope their views will inform some of the major development decisions which look set to be made.
For anyone who cares about the future of the town or village in which they live, the plans are worth a look – see www.nnjpu.org.uk.
In terms of housing alone, opportunities have been identified to potentially build 40,500 new homes in north Northamptonshire by 2031 (many of which have already been given planning permission). But – taking into account practical difficulties which may arise in making this figure a reality – the minimum total expected to be built has been set as 28,240.
One draft plan involves the creation of a new village of about 1,000 sustainable homes which could potentially be built at Deenethorpe Airfield.
East Northamptonshire Councillor David Brackenbury, chairman of the North Northamptonshire Joint Committee, said: “There are four growth towns, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden, with more jobs and employment opportunities. We are considering building a new village on the old airfield. It would have a primary school and obviously there would be the chance of schooling at Oundle or Corby. It is important the necessary infrastructure is in place for any proposed development.
“We are looking at further development in Rushden and there has been some discussion about development in Raunds and Thrapston and also employment land as well.”
The first “Core Strategy” covering the period to 2021 was adopted in 2008 but had to be reviewed and updated to take into account delays in development and infrastructure investment and come up with a more realistic set of aims to take the region through to 2031, working to the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework.
But local feedback on the ideas is essential.
Andrew Longley, the unit’s planning manager, said: “We can’t do a plan of any sort without having a good evidence base.
“We have to make sure the four authorities are looked after, remembering they are different. Kettering has a different agenda to East Northamptonshire.
“We are trying to listen to what it is communities want and where they want it and how they want to achieve things and form this into a document which will form a template to shape Northamptonshire.”
After the consultation period, the aim is to submit the plan to the planning inspectorate by April 2013. As well as online, the document is also available at council offices and libraries in the region.
What’s in the document?
Mentioned in the plans are not only the strategic sites for which planning permission has already been granted, but also several other sites which have no planning permission or resolutions in place as yet.
These other sites include more homes for north Desborough, north Rothwell and west Irthlingborough.
Rushden has been identified as a “growth town” with the potential to deliver new homes and jobs.
Policies have been put in place to protect the natural environment, including the newly designated Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area.
Identification of potential sites for more employment opportunities, including the area around the Rockingham Motor Racing Circuit.
Included is a policy outlining when building can take place in the countryside, considering a new village at Deenethorpe Airfield. The aim is to create a “model for sustainable rural living”.
How county could look by 2031...
Minimum requirement for new houses by 2031:
Corby – 8,900
East Northamptonshire – 6,560
Kettering – 7,080
Wellingborough – 5,700
North Northamptonshire – 28,240
Minimum job growth figures by 2031:
Corby – 8,898
East Northamptonshire – 5,188
Kettering – 8,858
Wellingborough – 5,556
North Northamptonshire – 28,500
EMERGING VISION FOR AREAS:
Corby – will be on its way to doubling in population and will offer “international class culture and sport facilities”.
East Northamptonshire – will be “heartland for small and medium sized enterprises”.
Kettering – will be the largest retail centre, providing for surrounding market towns and villages.
Wellingborough – will be “gateway to North Northamptonshire” for businesses looking for good rail connections.