Controversial Oundle housing development saga continues as planning decisions deferred

The planning committee deferred both decisions last night.The planning committee deferred both decisions last night.
The planning committee deferred both decisions last night.
The saga of where new homes are built in Oundle continues after decisions on planning applications for two controversial developments were deferred.

There was a packed gallery at East Northamptonshire Council last night as residents and town and district councillors lined up to speak against the plans for 130 homes on arable land at Cotterstock Road and a further 65 homes and a 65-bed care home at land between St Christopher's Drive and the A605 Oundle bypass.

The town council and a large number of residents are vehemently against both plans as they instead wants smaller developments within the historic market town rather than the proposed larger edge of town developments.

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After being presented with a 60-page amendment to the planning report planning committee members took a 20-minute break to read the papers and then promptly deferred Persimmon’s St Christopher’s Road site to allow officers more time to consider additional information supplied by the developer. The application had been recommended for refusal.

A number of residents including all three of the district councillors representing the area spoke out against the plans for the Cotterstock Road scheme, including chair of the planning committee Cllr Philip Stern, who stood down for the evening.

The scheme is on a 6.7 hectare greenfield site on the northern edge of the town close to the Anglian Water sewage works and near to the Oundle Primary School.

The authority has received 75 letters of objections to the development being progressed by developer Gladman Development with concerns about increased traffic, poor public transport links and the smell from the sewage works.

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At the meeting resident Ian Clark questioned the traffic data put forward by the developer and said the huge amount of resistance to the scheme by Oundle folk should be listened to.

He said: “This will do damage to Oundle well into the future. There are better sites in Oundle for development.”

Resident David Young also queried the suggestion there had been complaints to the authority about the smells from the sewage works and said over the years there had been many complaints about the smell.

He asked the committee: “Would you buy a house near to a large tank of human waste? And if not why would you expect other residents to?”

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Oundle Mayor Tony Robinson said the council had spent five years on its town plan and just as it was nearing the end developers were trying to drive a big hole in it.

Cllr Stern said he thought if the council refused the plan any appeal could be defended.

The application was met with apprehension by a number of councillors on the committee. They had concerns about the speed limit on the road and the safety of the two proposed entrances to the development.

Cllr Andy Mercer proposed that the application was deferred for independent traffic and odour assessments and then brought back for reconsideration. Councillors unanimously agreed the deferral.

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Oundle Town Council has been progressing its own neighbourhood plan for the past five years. At the end of last month there was an independent examination, with the decision due at the end of the month. However at the meeting a planning officer said the examiner had raised some fundamental concerns with the Oundle plan and there would now be a significant delay with it unlikely to go to a public referendum for nine months.

The meeting highlighted the complicated different layers of planning policy that councillors, residents and local authority planners are having to wrestle with.

The National Planning Policy Frameworks is the country’s grand masterplan and sets out the government’s policies, often trumping all other policies.

Underneath this sits the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy which was adopted in 2016 and lays out the principles of development for the area, including the number of homes targets and what infrastructure is needed.

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In 2011 the coalition government introduced the Localism Act which was meant to give power to local areas to map out what how their communities would develop in the future.

Local authorities develop their own Local Plan and underneath them site Neighbourhood Plans, but the amount of guidelines and red tape have held up many of the neighbourhood plans across the country.

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