'Hated' Rushden housing development proposal 'a real mess', says campaigner

Developers of the nine acre parcel of land want to use a residential road for a new access route

Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 6:00 am

Plans for a 133-home Rushden development that would see an access road cut across existing homes' driveways have raised more than 512 objections.

Residents in and around Prospect Avenue have been fighting the scheme by Co-op Group Limited and ilke Homes Limited to build an estate of affordable housing and energy-efficient modular homes.

Although now a green space, the 3.6 hectares (nine acres) has been designated 'brownfield' as the site had been previously used as a gravel pit and the central part of the site was a former coal storage depot.

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Residents have been campaigning against the proposed development that would include an access route down Prospect Avenue

To enable access to the site earmarked in the local plan, developers want to build a road past existing homes in Prospect Avenue land creating a junction where there is currently a dead-end.

Resident and campaigner Dr Lorraine Childs said: "There are almost 500 public objections to this application, showing a huge level of public distress. It's just so hated by everyone.

"It's going to be a real mess. The new junction would be just 10m from my drive, seven houses will be impacted.

"It's a danger to residents living around the proposed junction. This junction is being proposed to be built directly in front of residents’ driveways.

The road junction would be altered so the road would no longer be an dead end

"They have submitted inaccurate drawings, with the wrong street name - The Hedges instead of Prospect Avenue - and the wrong house numbers and inaccurate drawings of driveway orientations. In fact, they have removed parking altogether from one household, although they have left room for a smart car in front of the window. This is one of the four vehicles that this house owns. Anything larger than a Smart car would not fit and as their drawing shows any normal size car would be crossing the neighbour’s boundary. They have also, in this drawing, realigned the drives of all of the other houses surrounding the junction."

The planning application NE/21/00498/FUL is for the construction of 133 dwellings, internal roads, public open space, landscaping and other ancillary works, including creation of a new vehicular and pedestrian access from Prospect Avenue and pedestrian access from Shirley Road.

Click here to see the full applicationIn the comments, Northamptonshire Highways' head of transport, highways and infrastructure said they could not 'sustain the position of a holding objection to this application' after they were provided 'sufficient information with regards to highway capacity and road safety', but they added: "I still express concerns in relation to the existing levels of on-street parking on Prospect Avenue and that this proposal will only further add to the number of vehicles passing through a constrained carriageway."

Northamptonshire Highways had also expressed concerns about the increased traffic turning right from Prospect Avenue towards Higham Ferrers stating that a dedicated right hand turn lane for traffic on Higham Road (A5028) into Prospect Avenue would be required.

The development in red

Dr Childs said: "ilke’s proposal for a right hand lane includes a drawing devoid of street furniture and trees. An independent survey, commissioned by residents, highlights that four trees will need to be removed to accommodate this. There has ben a cry of pain from the community about this, as these trees form part of the history of the town and it would be an aesthetic and character loss for the to be chopped down.

"Similarly, two street trees from Prospect Avenue would be chopped down and according to an independent report from a tree surgeon, most others would die from the impact from the abnormal loads. This would destroy the character of the street."

In the the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy guide the growth to 2031 a minimum housing delivery target of 8,400 dwellings have been assigned for delivery in the former East Northamptonshire District, with Rushden to provide 3,285 new homes - just under 40 per cent of the requirement.

Described as a 'leading modular housing company' ilke Homes secured the site allocated for residential development that they say has the potential to deliver 'up to 150 affordable homes for the local community'.

The road to the new estate would use Prospect Avenue as an access point

On their website ilke Homes said it intends to work closely with Rushden Town Council, and the local community 'in order to secure a planning permission which adheres to principles set out in the adopted Neighbourhood Plan'.

There would be four one-bed units, 62 two-bed units, 60 three-bed units and 12 homes with more than four bedrooms. A total of 83 of the homes would be shared ownership.

Both Higham Ferrers Town Council and Rushden Town Council have objected to the proposal and North Northamptonshire Council's planning policy team said: "Whilst the principle of residential development is acceptable on this site...in its current form this proposal would not be supported in policy terms."

Dr Childs, a consultant clinical psychologist, added: "Perhaps one of the reasons for the cry of pain from the community is that they are tired of developers riding roughshod over our communities and everyone lives in fear that theirs will be next.

"The development has over-crowding, a lack of green space, alleyways, teeny-tiny gardens, and a lack of parking. When are we going to learn? It's going to be another Hemmingwell Estate. It's a really unhealthy place to live.

"The council can be assertive, as the public are behind them, so they can listen to public opinion and consider what is right for these towns."

The plan of the proposed development showing Prospect Avenue at the very top

A total of 512 objections have been received with two supporting comments.

Other residents voiced their concerns. One said: "Given the extensive development planned for Rushden it does not seem necessary to destroy so many streets and historical trees and the last bit of semi-natural greenspace for miles around, in order to build a few low-quality houses.

"With the cumulative negative effect on the community, the extensive roadworks, the poor air quality, the risk of flooding, application should be made for change of amenity to preserve the last vestige of open space in our community.

"Failing this, the access should be from John Clark Way, so that the construction traffic and abnormal loads do not have to access the site via residential streets."

Another said: "The obvious choice, if this development has to go ahead, is to use John Clark Way. I would however advocate that this remains green space as it is the last natural green space in town. Soon Rushden East will be built, removing all fields from the east side of Rushden."

Tom Heathcote, executive director of development at ilke Homes, previously said: "This development offers a real opportunity for the people of Rushden - delivering a range of new homes that are badly needed for the community, including, affordable homes, first time buyers properties, family homes, and smaller single level units which enabling older residents to downsize, as well as significant investment in the local community."

The remodelled junction where the current dead end would be used to access the land between Prospect Avenue and John Clark Way
Residents with the trees that could be removed from Higham Road to allow access for construction vehicles