Controversial Oundle housing application back on the agenda

Planning permission for a 130-home estate looks set be granted

Approval for 130-home housing estate on the edge of Oundle looks set to be passed despite three local councils' objections.

Officers at North Northants Council are recommending the detailed plan for the site off Cotterstock Road is approved, two years after East Northants Council granted the plans outline planning permission through Gladman Developments.

Now councillors will vote on the granting of reserved matters planning permission to Vistry East Midlands for the 126 dwellings and four self-build plots - despite concerns from nearby authorities.

The arable land on which the houses would be built - inset the plan of the development

Concerns have been raised about access to the 16-and-a-half acre site with one route off Cotterstock Road and the other via an established street, St Peters Road.

Oundle Town Council has maintained that the small strip of land, currently a dead end spur road, that could provide an entry point to the new estate, belongs to them and 'has not agreed to make its land available for this purpose' fearing the road could become a 'rat run'.

In response, planning officers said: "Oundle Town Council appear eager to prevent access from St Peters Road and state that the access is wholly reliant upon access across land that is not in the ownership of the site owner but in the ownership of Oundle Town Council which has not agreed to make its land available for this purpose.

"According to the town council, they own a strip of land somewhere towards the edge of St Peters Road and intend to use this to prevent access to the site."

The disputed road leads to the development along St Peters Road show towards the bottom right of the plans

After looking into the ownership of the land and seeking legal advice, the developer said: "It appears that the town council may be confused with the legalities of ownership. St Peters Road is an adopted highway and it directly abuts the application site boundary.

"Whilst a section is owned by Oundle Town Council, it is nonetheless dedicated public highway. The work to connect the existing public highway (St Peters Road) into the site can therefore be carried out through the usual highways’ licences. Notwithstanding the explanation, ownership of land is not a planning issue and is a civil matter."

This dispute could prove costly if the ownership of the land has to be decided in the civil courts.

As well as the outstanding issue of the access route, objections to the development have been made by Glapthorn and Cotterstock Parish Councils.

The 6.5acre-site is located off the Cotterstock Road, close to the Anglian Water sewage works

In an objection letter Glapthorn Parish Council said it was opposed as some of the land for the proposed estate fell within their parish.

It said: "The council objects to the application.

"It is difficult to see that any aspect of the proposed developments complies with the vision for Glapthorn at the heart of its adopted neighbourhood plan."

Glapthorn Parish Council added that any development adjacent to the parish boundary with Oundle must be sustainable and 'must not encroach upon the physical and visual separation' of Glapthorn village from Oundle.

Where the carriageway would pass through on to fields from St Peters Road

The proposed estate would have 12 two-bedroom homes, 31 three-bedroom homes, 21 four-bedroom homes and ten five-bedroom homes to be sold at market rates - a total of 74 homes.

Affordable housing would also be on offer with ten one-bedroom homes, 20 two-bedroom homes, 20 three-bedroom homes , and two four-bedroom homes - a total of 52 homes. Four self-build plots will also be for sale.

Cotterstock Parish Council has also objected to the development citing increases in traffic volume along the Cotterstock Road and lack of visibility on the bends.

A spokesman for Cotterstock Parish Council added: "The wider issue that we face in North Northants, is that in considering each planning application on its specific merits, we lose sight of the wider impact on the community and locality.

"Oundle simply does not have the infrastructure capacity to cope with these large developments that have been foisted on the town; the health centre is simply one example.

"Villages like Cotterstock are dependent on Oundle, and the sprawling town, traffic increases on narrow roads and through small villages, reflects a critical lack of strategic planning."

Under the proposals developers say a large area of the land is to be provided as open space and is set to include a children’s play area and wildflower meadow.

The developer also plans to retain some of the landscape’s existing features, including mature trees, hedgerows and the public footpath which runs across the eastern boundary of the site.

In addition to the new homes, the planning agreement will see the housebuilder provide financial contributions towards education, libraries, transport including a cycle path, health and community facilities.

North Northamptonshire's area planning committee for Thrapston will meet on Monday, February 21, with councillors recommended to approve the application.

CLICK HERE to visit the East Northants section of the North Northants planning portal to see the application in full.

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