Oundle Mayor says district council has ‘ridden roughshod’ over Neighbourhood Plan

Resident William Leo, Cllr Peter Peel (Head of Neighboourhood Plan Working Party - Oundle), and Mayor of Oundle Tony Robinson
Resident William Leo, Cllr Peter Peel (Head of Neighboourhood Plan Working Party - Oundle), and Mayor of Oundle Tony Robinson

A group representing Oundle residents’ wishes to influence future development in the town has slammed East Northants Council (ENC) for ignoring their plan.

The Mayor of Oundle has voiced his concerns about plans submitted for 195 houses and a 65-unit care facility on two separate green field sites in the town.

Land earmarked for development off St Christopher's Drive

Land earmarked for development off St Christopher's Drive

Cllr Tony Robinson, who was elected as mayor in May 2019, said: “I’m angry. I can’t understand how this has happened.

“I feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath us.

“The developers and the district council have ridden roughshod over us.”

The Oundle Neighbourhood Plan group has been compiling the plan in accordance with the neighbourhood planning system introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

Mayor of Oundle Cllr Tony Robinson

Mayor of Oundle Cllr Tony Robinson

Cllr Robinson is a member of the group waiting for the Neighbourhood Plan to be formally accepted by official examiners.

But the group’s members say that the people’s plan has been ignored.

They are concerned that two pending planning applications using land not in the town plan will be rubber-stamped by ENC.

Applications have been submitted for outline planning application for the building of up to 65 homes and an extra care facility of up to 65 units (a total of 130) on land between St Christopher’s Drive and A605 the Oundle Bypass.

Land earmarked for development off Cotterstock Road

Land earmarked for development off Cotterstock Road

The other is an outline planning application for the building of up to 130 homes with vehicular access points from Cotterstock Road and St Peter’s Road.

Both of these sites had been rejected by the Neighbourhood Plan as unsuitable sites for development due to problems with traffic, access, and infrastructure issues.

ENC has developed a separate plan for Oundle which was part of a district-wide strategy drawn up in 2016.

The two different plans have replaced a previous the Rural North, Oundle and Thrapston Plan (RNOTP) which had been adopted in July 2011 by ENC.

Land off Cotterstock Road

Land off Cotterstock Road

Oundle Town Council had been working with developers and land owners around the town to earmark land suitable for development to provide the number of houses asked for by ENC.

The majority of the seven sites would have provided the town with new amenities negotiated by Oundle Town Council, including a new cricket pitch, allotments and a new cemetery.

Cllr Peter Peel, chairman of the Oundle Neighbourhood Plan Working Party on Oundle Town Council, said: “Since 2013, we have been working on the Neighbourhood Plan to replace the out-of-date RNOTP.

“At the start of 2018 we had complete backing for our plan for partial-site planning from ENC.

“By June/July 2018, ENC had totally flipped, their instruction had changed to full-site development and they said that our housing density wasn’t heavy enough.

“The town council had a meeting to redesign the plan reducing the seven sites to five with housing densities to fit in with the new requirements.”

Cllr Jake Vowles, who represents the Oundle Ward on ENC, said: “The district council has completely ignored the Neighbourhood Plan.

“The ENC local plan picked three sites. The consultants never bothered to come to the area so they got three more consultants.

“The councillors on ENC voted against their own planners at the planning policy meeting on July 29, 2019.”

On Tuesday, September 3, the full Oundle Town Council debated the two planning applications, voting unanimously to object to them.

Cllr Peel said: “The application for housing off the Cotterstock Road by Gladman is not suitable.

“The site is off a road that is very busy with traffic because of the primary school, fields get waterlogged, the smell from the sewage farm is not good.

“Half of the site also is in Glapthorn - this would lead to coalescence, a meeting of two areas.

“Gladman are riding roughshod over us and ENC are undermining the Neighbourhood Plan.”

Dr Peter Hadfield, a GP who works in Peterborough, lives adjacent to the Cotterstock Road site.

He said: “The 2011 Localism Act set out that local residents are meant to be listened to.

“On the site there could be extra 200 cars using the roads and that’s a conservative estimate.

“The road past the school is already congested - I’m not sure the infrastructure can cope with this.

“St Peter’s Road already gets flooded and many gardens up the hill get waterlogged, all added to existing sewerage problems.”

Jayne Nicholls, who lives next to the proposed access point on St Peter’s Road, said: “I’ve lived in the town all my life and it would have a massive effect on the doctors and the schools.”

The site on land off St Christopher’s Drive, planned with developer Persimmon Homes, would have potentially 65 homes and a four-storey ‘low cost’ care home.

William Leo, who has lived in St Christopher’s Drive since 1997, said: “The site has one access point for emergency services and the road is very narrow.

“There is a flood risk and there is no bus service for the residents of the care facility.

“The care home would have high levels of noise pollution because the site backs right on to the A605.

“In the plans they have put in special noise barriers but this is a four-storey building - the noise will come over the top.”

An East Northants Council spokesman said: “Our current position, from a development management perspective, is that we shall be considering the planning applications on their merits and taking officer reports on them to future meeting(s) of our planning management committee.

“The issue of potential ‘prematurity’ in relation to the Oundle Neighbourhood Plan will be considered within the officer reports, along with all other relevant matters as part of the ‘planning balance’.

“All relevant consultations have been carried out in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Development Management Procedure Order.”

Comments and objections can be made via the East Northants Planning website before the Saturday, September 28, deadline.

For Cotterstock Road go to https://publicaccess.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=PVKCGDGOIIQ00&activeTab=summary

For St Christopher’s Drive go to https://publicaccess.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=PVTLTBGOIKU00&activeTab=summary