Unique houses described as ‘like something out of Life on Mars’ have been given the go-ahead despite worries over creating another Lincoln Way.
The unusual homes are being built at Priors Hall Park and had been the subject of intense debate by councillors on Corby’s development control committee.
Councillors had asked for more details of the plans to allay their concerns that they were too similar to Radburn-design houses built in the 1960s and 1970s on bulldozed estates such as Lincoln Way and Arran Way where they had provided the perfect playground for criminals.
There were also worries that the garages were not big enough, and the houses were too out-of-keeping with existing schemes on Priors Hall Park.
The 23 homes that will look out on to the County Wildlife Site, were described in the meeting at Corby Cube as reminiscent of 1970s Germany, of ‘like something out of Life on Mars’, and as a ‘mish-mash’.
They are built with flat roofs, and some will have double-aspect terraces with artificial grass.
Corby Council officer Alan Davies, in his report to councillors, said: “They’re based on the award-winning Accordia scheme in Cambridge. It’s thought very highly of and has been praised for its high-quality architecture and low car dependency.
“It’s going to create a strong street frontage on to the county wildlife site.
“This is not a Radburn development. Some of the Radburn developments in Corby in the 1970s failed because of the layout, not because of the design of the houses.”
He also reassured members that the garages were large enough for a family car and that the plans were compliant with the design code laid out for Priors Hall.
Radburn developments were popular in Corby in the 1970s because they were largely pedestrianised and encouraged commuity life. However, by the 1990s they had begun to attract drugs, gangs and had become a hotbed for anti-social behaviour because criminals found it so easy to hide in the rabbit-warren layout. Most have recently been bulldozed and replaced with traditional housing.
Developer Neil Edington, of EDG Property, spoke at the meeting. He said: “We’re not a national house-builder. We’re a small, niche developer and our focus is on design.
“We employ award-winning architects to drive things forward and we make no apologies that the design is different.
“We’re trying to bring back a bit of Grand Designs to Priors Hall Park. There’s a lot of national, repetitive, homogenised kit (houses) on Priors Hall Park, and that’s needed. It’s all sold so it must be needed.
“But what isn’t catered for on Priors Hall Park at the moment is anything that’s pushing the boundaries or design.
“It’s about trying to give Corby something it can be proud of.”
Councillor Mary Butcher said she had concerns about parking and that she didn’t want to see similar parking problems to those encountered at Oakley Vale. She said: “There are residents there that are selling their houses because they can’t live in the area.
“People are having to park on corners and children can’t play out.
“How can we make a decision if we’re not sure residents are able to live there comfortably?”
“When I first saw these designs I was quite shocked at what was in front of me.
“The person who designed Lincoln Way was also a national award winner.
“They may not be the same layout and they may all be in a row but I look at this and I have every single alarm bell ringing.”
Despite their worries, members were told they must have sufficient planning reasons for turning down the proposal and that rejecting it because they didn’t like the design would likely result in any appeal being won.
The application was given the go-ahead.