Plans for 350 homes for Kettering deferred over traffic lights issue

An artist's impression of the site.
An artist's impression of the site.

Plans for 350 homes near Kettering’s Gipsy Lane have been sent back to the drawing board – because councillors want a roundabout rather than traffic lights as part of the scheme.

Kettering Council’s planning committee met last night to discuss the Peterborough Diocesan Board Of Finance bid to build the development on land between Gipsy Lane and the A14.

Access to the site would be from two main entrance points at either end of Gipsy Lane, with a proposal for traffic signals to be put in place at the junction of Gipsy Lane and Warren Hill.

But it was this proposal which upset councillors and residents, who say there is already too much traffic on what is one of the main routes into town.

Cllr Mick Scrimshaw, who spoke at last night’s meeting, said: “I have been involved with this project for years, having first attended the public consultation event put on by the developers and then countless meetings with residents, highways officers and council planners.

“My concerns were with the plans to chop down 18 of the mature trees along the lane which make such a beautiful local feature, and of the potential for traffic problems with the proposed new entrances on to Gipsy Lane.

“I made the point that planners should look at the long-term impact of their decisions because of the effect on future generations for years to come.

“I also spoke in particular about my concerns that traffic lights were being proposed at the junction outside the crematorium and not a roundabout.

“It seems clear to me that the stop/start traffic caused by traffic lights during the rush hour would cause chaos with the potential for tailbacks way past the hospital in one direction, and back to the A14 in the other.

“Cllr Keli Watts was the first member to speak and was brilliant!

“She tore into the plans, echoing some of the points I and the one local resident who was allowed to speak made, and finished off by quoting directly from the Government’s current housing and planning White Paper saying that ‘local people should be involved in what developments look like’.

“The killer punch, I think, came when an officer from NCC highways admitted there were already traffic problems in the area and would continue to be so, and that while they were not against a roundabout, traffic lights were the only option they were being offered by the developer.

“Cllr Linda Adams took up this theme and quoted him by saying “the people of Kettering deserved better than the best that can be done within existing constraints”.

“As the debate drew to its close Cllr Ash Davies took up a point I had made earlier by saying if a roundabout was needed, it needed to be done now while there ware infrastructure contributions from the developer available.

“I had made the point that if traffic lights were put in and didn’t work, the county council wouldn’t have the money to change things later.

“The committee unanimously agreed to defer a decision until the developer came back with a proposal that included a roundabout and dealt with the access issues.

“I’d like to say well done to all of the councillors.

“We all know there will be housing built on that site at some stage.

“Residents have agreed this all along, but it has to be the right development and it has to be done sympathetically.”

The site is adjacent to the West Hill development site, which has planning permission for 460 homes with a primary school and local centre.