Major housing plan in pipeline for Corby's Pen Green balancing lakes fields
Three public meetings are planned for the weekend
A £31m plan to build 272 homes on fields surrounding Pen Green balancing lakes is due to be submitted to planners.
Leaflets have been posted through local doors to let local residents know that Countryside Properties - a large PLC housebuilder listed on the FTSE 100 - plans to build the houses on the fields bordered by the Earlstrees Industrial estate, the railway line, Stephenson Way and Hubble Road.
Because the developer has decided against public consultation events, Councillor Mark Pengelly has organised his own to gauge local opinion. They will take place on Saturday (May 29) in the area around the development.
Vehicle access for the potential new residents will be through the Earlstrees Industrial Estate from Brunel Road and Stockbridge Way and pedestrian access is shown on to Pen Green park.
The fields are former quarry land although they have not been used as such for decades and are now used as recreation land by local residents and dogwalkers and for access to the industrial estate by pedestrian workers.
The site has historically flooded, with the worst example in summer 2019 when the balancing lakes became unable to cope with heavy rainfall and flooded the nearby rail line, causing a landslip and a train to derail.
The site is in two sections currently owned by Metropolitan Housing and Homes England - to whom it was transferred by the Corby Development Corporation when it folded. It is believed that Countryside Properties will take ownership if planning permission is granted.
The larger balancing lake will still be owned by Anglian Water. The smaller balancing lake, currently owned by Homes England, will be part of the development site but will remain a lake.
Plans will be submitted in two parts and Countryside says that it will deliver, with low-cost housing partners Sigma Capital and Midland Heart, 161 affordable homes (61 per cent) across the whole site. They say that the build will cost £31m and will will generate a 'new homes bonus' of £1.7m for North Northamptonshire Council - a grant paid by the government to encourage local authorities to build new houses.
The majority of the homes will be two and three-bedroom houses and there will also be a handful of one and four-bedroom homes. The brochure states that hedgerows will be retained but many are not shown on the plans.
Locals objected in the strongest terms when similar plans were submitted in 2007 and 2009. Those plans were eventually scrapped.
Concerns have already been raised on social media about the latest plans, with worries including the density of the houses, unsuitable access through a busy industrial estate and concerns over noise from the nearby 24-hour Weetabix factory and other businesses.
Local people are also concerned about the pressure on nearby schools which are already under strain for places and on the fact there is no green space or play area included in the new plans.
Countryside Properties are not holding public consultation events because of the pandemic and are instead asking residents to email with with thoughts. But ward councillor Mark Pengelly says consultation is key so is holding three of his own public events to talk to local people about the plans.
He said: "I'm a representative of the community that lives in the area around the ponds and I want to know their response to this potential application.
"The applicants say they're not going to hold public consultation events so I'm going to hold outside public meetings to ensure that local people can talk about any potential issues or worries they may have."
Cllr Pengelly's meetings will take place on Saturday at 11am at the end of Crick Close towards the grassland; at 11.30am at the end of Hubble Road towards the grassland; and at 12.30pm at Pen Green Park.
The applicant's brochure states: "The site is a former quarry and associated iron and steel works. It has been left vacant for a number of years following the mineral extraction process ending and is classed as brownfield land.
"We have been working with our partners to put together a suitable proposal to develop this land for residential dwellings, linking in with the existing facilities including the local play area and employment opportunities.
"As part of the planning process we will agree what infrastructure contributions will be required."
Countryside Properties has employed an external communications firm to deal with feedback from residents. Feedback should be directed to [email protected]