Desborough residents say they were 'mis-sold' over access to huge development next door

Planned access to the new site has changed...years after those buying on the estate next door were promised something different

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 1:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 1:50 pm
The development site, outlined in red.

Residents on Desborough's Grange estate are up in arms after it was revealed access to a 700-home development could be through their streets - years after they were promised it wouldn't be.

Bellway Homes has put in final 'all details' plans for the Grange phase II, on land to the north of the estate which was built more than a decade ago.

The 700-home extension already has outline planning permission - with an application from 2011 saying access could not be through Rowan Close for legal reasons.

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But latest plans say the narrow, unadopted road WILL be the secondary access, years after many bought their homes on the basis they were assured it wouldn't be.

And it comes after council officer admitted a transport assessment from 2016 was "a bit of a fudge" in emails released under Freedom of Information laws.

Rowan Close resident Matthew Peleszok, who moved there in 2013, said: "A large number of residents feel that they have been mis-sold."

Part of the plans submitted by Bellway is a transport assessment, dated from 2016, which does not include a traffic assessment for Rowan Close or nearby Ironwood Avenue.

An email sent in 2019 by Kettering Council's interim head of development services, released under the Freedom of Information Act, said there was "definitely" a need for a revised transport/traffic assessment or addendum as the consented assessment was "a bit of a fudge".

It added: "We now know from the design code work that this (the southern access) will be Rowan Close however this needs to be demonstrated through highway assessment work and is likely to cause as much controversy and opposition as the current Rothwell North proposals..."

Mr Peleszok said the fudged remark gave residents "no comfort whatsoever" that the transport impacts of the development have been properly considered.

He said: "They won't tell us how between 2011 and 2021 the planned access seems to have changed.

"They won't tell us how this will impact us in Rowan Close because they haven't done a new traffic assessment that indicates the impact on Rowan Close.

"We are finding bits out through FOI that the process has been fudged and they are trying to pull stuff together for an audit trail.

"It feels like they will plough through with it because they want the houses more than they care about the residents."

He said that due consultation had not been completed and claimed both the council and Bellway had 'acted without transparency', adding that the amount of housing built in Desborough and Rothwell 'surely' meant a new transport assessment had to be completed.

He said he does not know why the application had been validated without updated assessments - and questioned whether the council was 'trying to help' the applicant to avoid previously granted permission lapsing.

He said: "Rowan Close was designed as a cul-de-sac and was never designed to accommodate this level of traffic. It is very narrow in places and is required to accommodate parked cars along its length given a lack of off-street parking in many areas. A full and detailed transport assessment should be submitted by the applicant and fully scrutinised by the local highway authority to ensure that the access is safe and that Rowan Close is suitable for this amount of development – any reasonable person would conclude that it isn’t.

"Approving access off Rowan Close on the basis that is the best and cheapest option for the developer is not acceptable – it is either suitable or not?"

Numerous objections to the plans have been lodged by neighbours.

One resident in Wood Avens Way said: "This will considerably increase traffic (700 to 1400) cars a day on the estate which increases pollution and risk to pedestrians. The proposed estate needs it own entrance only as the Grange estate has."

Another in Ironwood Avenue said: "Reviewing the planning application it is clear that the phase 2 development will substantially increase the amount of traffic on the roads through the existing Grange development as access to the new development includes access from Ironwood Avenue and Rowan Close. The planning application illustrates highway improvements but these seem to focus only on the Stoke Road access."

A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “North Northamptonshire Council is in receipt of a reserved matters application, from Bellway Homes (East Midlands) for a residential development of 700 dwellings on land at Desborough North.

"The application will be considered by the council in accordance with the relevant planning legislation, which will include a period of public consultation at the appropriate stage during which time local residents, as well as statutory consultees such as the highway authority, will have the opportunity to respond to the consultation and have their say.”

Bellway Homes has been contacted for comment but is yet to respond.

The application could be determined by July.