Earls Barton residents win battle for preferred housing development

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Councillors were unanimous in approving one large housing development and rejecting two smaller plans after a hard-fought fight by villagers.

People had to stand outside the council chamber due to the sheer number of residents wanting to hear as three separate applications for houses in Earls Barton were considered by Wellingborough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

First to be discussed was a plan by BDW Trading Limited for up to 280 dwellings on land off Main Road and Northampton Road in Earls Barton.

James Wilson, on behalf of the neighbourhood plan team for the village, was one of eight speakers to address the committee.

He told the packed chamber how this plan was the preferred housing development for Earls Barton, with a survey carried out as part of the neighbourhood plan coming back with 88 per cent of respondents supporting the development.

But it was Charlie Biggs, a young sportsman from the village, who really caught the attention of the councillors, urging them to support the plans which would help bring much-needed sports facilities to Earls Barton.

After some discussion, committee members were unanimous in granting outline planning permission for the development.

The second application to be discussed was for up to 85 houses on land between and behind 154 and 153 Station Road in the village.

But the application by J M Beatty, I S Clark and Redrow Homes South Midlands was unanimously rejected.

14 out of the 17 people listed to speak on this matter objected to it, for reasons including threat to the environment, flood risk, impact on neighbouring properties, noise, increased traffic on already busy roads, notably Station Road, and pressure on the local schools.

The developers had been listed to speak, but declined at the meeting.

As well as 200 letters of objection and a 601-signature petition received ahead of the meeting, councillors concurred with the residents’ concerns and rejected the plan.

People power continued to reign as the final plan for 39 houses on land to the rear of 1 to 27 Thorpe Road, off Station Road, Earls Barton, was also rejected unanimously.

The application by Bowbridge Land Limited had attracted similar numbers of letters of objection and a petition containing hundreds of signatures.

Many residents who had spoken out against the second previous took to the floor again to reiterate their concerns for development in this part of the village.

After consideration by the committee, the plans were rejected in almost identical fashion to the previous plan and for the same reasons.

Throughout the meeting, the people of Earls Barton were praised for their efforts with their Neighbourhood Plan and for putting forward such a good case regarding the preferred site for development in their community.

Cllr Andrew Scarborough said: “In our borough, Earls Barton is blazing a trail.

“I suspect there are other villages in the county under similar pressure who wish they were where you are with your plan.

“I would like to congratulate Earls Barton tonight.”

Neighbourhood plans are designed to allow local people to get the right type of development for their community, although the plans must still meet the needs of the wider area.

In most cases it is expected that neighbourhood plans will have to take into account the local council’s assessment of housing and other development needs in the area.