£307m infrastructure funding shortfall in North Northamptonshire

A number of priority roads needed in the north of the county have not had any funding allocated.
A number of priority roads needed in the north of the county have not had any funding allocated.

Northants North Northamptonshire has an infrastructure funding shortfall of almost £307m, says a new document looking at the investment needed to bring all planned developments forward.

The huge figure has been revealed by the North Northamptonshire Investment Framework commissioned by the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit, which has responsibility for co-ordinating the future developments planned for the area.

The document has been put together to help discussions with government about a new growth deal for the area as part of the Oxford – Cambridgeshire Arc, which will see one million homes built on land between the two areas.

Current agreed figures are for a minimum of 35,000 new homes in the north of the county from 2011 to 2031, but this figure could increase significantly if local politicians agree a deal with central government.

The report, which was published last week, says that ‘there is a real risk that planned development and recent progress will stall if infrastructure funding is not secured in the short term.”

It puts together a list of priority projects for the north of the county which have not yet been funded. £223m of projects have been forecast before 2025 but as yet no funding as been secured. Typically funding comes from government grants, agencies such as SEMLEP and developers also have to pay funds towards infrastructure costs.

Top of the list is the long awaited Isham bypass, costed at £41.5m. Regeneration body SEMLEP withdrew funding for the project last autumn after the county council failed to secure the remainder funding. The scheme deemed second most important is Isham to Wellingborough road improvements costed at £35m and third is the Corby Northern Orbital Road Phase 2 at a cost of £30m.

Other schemes without funding include a £16.5m secondary school at Hanwood Park, Kettering, an £8.1m sub-station at the Tresham Garden Village, Wellingborough town centre public realm improvements and a new primary school for Desborough.

However, a new secondary school for Corby does not feature at all in the £307m infrastructure shortfall list. The town is now running out of secondary school places and this year some students living in Corby were allocated a school in the neighbouring town of Oundle. A free school is earmarked near for a site near Weldon but the opening date keeps being pushed back.

The list was drawn up from discussions at two meetings held in September last year and January senior officers from all four North Northamptonshire councils and members of the joint planning unit, which includes all four council leaders.

Speaking at a meeting of the unit last week (June 6) leader of East Northamptonshire Council Stephen North said: “We suffer from an infrastructure deficit, which is something we have always been concerned about in East Northamptonshire.”

Deputy leader at the council Cllr David Jenney said the county council’s highways department was holding up the large housing developments and Kettering Council leader Russell Roberts said the chief executive of the county council Theresa Grant was aware of the capacity issues within the department and that more investment was needed.

To go alongside the new investment framework a new economic report outlining the key strengths of the area will be devised.

Up to 2018 only East Northamptonshire had hit its seven-year housing build target. In October last year only three of the nine identified large housing developments had begun construction.