Retro: 21st century creation of ‘traditional’ village

A little more than 15 years ago planning permission was granted for the first 10 homes in what was to become a completely new village – Mawsley.

This week, the Telegraph has reported how developers are attempting to sell a large, £2m plot of land alongside the village, which lies off the A43 about five miles from Kettering.

An artists' impression of Mawsley's Main Street

An artists' impression of Mawsley's Main Street

Outline planning permission for the village had been granted several years earlier, in 1995, and the creation of the village had not been without controversy – an action group was formed to oppose the development claiming the new village was next to land of scientific interest and was also home to badgers.

Although developers had wanted permission for 750 homes, the number was reduced to 450 following the outcry – but this was overturned on appeal and went back to 750.

However, in 2000, before construction work had begun, Telegraph reporter Nick Shaw wrote that the creation of Mawsley had united leaders from political parties.

In the Telegraph published on January 14, 2000, Cllr Terry Freer, who was then leader of the opposition, said: “I have always thought it was the right thing to do for the borough.

“Without a new village there would have been enormous pressure on the villages in the borough who would have seen a great deal of development to cope with extra people.

“A certain area had to be identified for building and a number were looked at in detail before a final decision was taken.”

Then council leader Richard Tod, in the same article, said: “Kettering is a very successful, vibrant, growing borough and the village is a development to cope with that increase. Without the new village we would have had to build adjacent to existing villages and this would have damaged the environment.

“We hope the developers and the planners will work together to make it not just a housing estate but a community.”

The Telegraph closely followed various stages of the development – and even interviewed Chris and Alison Cope, who were the first couple to move into Mawsley after buying a new home in Main Street while extensive building work was still going on all around their new home.

Mr and Mrs Cope’s first neighbours moved in a week after the couple themselves.

Speaking at the time, Mr Cope said: “It’s not too bad during the day when people are working all round. You don’t notice the workers a lot of the time, you notice it most when they are gone. It goes very quiet.

“We wanted to be a part of what is going on here.

“All we saw at first was the map, a picture and an outline of how this was going to be.

“We just took a gamble.”

The original planning permission for Mawsley said the village would have about 750 homes – although additions to this mean the total has risen to about 980 in recent years.

In their original brief, developers Alfred McAlpine – who in 2000 said construction work would take about ten years – said they wanted to build a ‘traditional’ village from the ground up, complete with its own green, village hall, school, pub and a few shops.

Their aim, the firm said at the time was to “create the look of a traditional Northamptonshire village”.

The Telegraph also extensively covered the construction of the new village school – Mawsley Community Primary School, GP surgery and village hall/community centre, which is known simply as The Centre. The £1.3m construction of the then ‘new’ roundabout on the A43 which accesses the village was also covered.