Councillors have agreed to start negotiations for the sale of 66 acres of its land needed to kick start a £400m development to the north of Wellingborough.
Outline planning permission for the Wellingborough North development was granted by the Secretary of State in February 2010.
It gave consent for up to 3,000 homes, shops, schools, a nursery, offices, a health centre, a community centre and parks, as well as space reserved for new road improvements between Isham and Wellingborough.
Part of the land needed for the scheme to begin is owned by the council, and until now the authority had been reluctant to sell.
Reasons for their reluctance included wanting to protect the interests of residents living at nearby Redhill Grange, uncertainty that the best possible price for the land could be achieved in the current market, and the wish to get the Stanton Cross development on the east side of the town under way first.
At a meeting of the council’s resources committee last Wednesday, councillors agreed the time was now right for negotiations to begin, and authorised officers to start talking about terms of sale with developer Northants LLP.
The sale of the council land could then allow the first two phases of the three-phase project to proceed.
In making their decision, councillors at the meeting said that it was important that the town, rather than the surrounding villages, took some of the pressure of the five-year supply of housing land that the borough is required to demonstrate.
They also said that the financial benefit from the sale of the land would be a big boost to the council’s capital income.
Speaking after the meeting, council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: “This is good news for the borough.
“We’re only beginning negotiations at this stage, and there’s still lots to talk about before any sale of land is agreed, but we believe the time is now right to get this development started.
“The Stanton Cross scheme is moving forward very quickly, so we aren’t as concerned about both projects running alongside each other, and perhaps most importantly it increases the odds of defending the borough against unwanted housing developments.
“We have to demonstrate we have a five-year supply of developable land, and large schemes such as Wellingborough North help us justify refusing speculative applications elsewhere in the borough and in particular in our villages.
“The money we’ll get from selling the land will obviously be welcome, and the development will also bring benefits for the borough as a whole in terms of construction work, additional employment, education and leisure.”
An update on the progress of the negotiations will be brought back to the resources committee meeting next month.