Infrastructure is not keeping pace with housebuilding in north Northants say senior councillors

Councillors have hit out at the speed infrastructure is coming forward in north Northamptonshire as it is not keeping pace with housing growth.

By Sarah Ward
Monday, 29th April 2019, 10:50 am
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 10:58 am
Between 2011 and 2018, more than 11,000 homes were built in the area.
Between 2011 and 2018, more than 11,000 homes were built in the area.

Since 2011 a total of 11,044 homes have been built across the towns and rural areas that connect Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants.

The aim according to the current masterplan – the joint core strategy – is to have 35,000 homes built by 2031, with a number of large urban extensions in the area’s large towns.

Since last year council leaders and senior officers have been in talks with central government about a growth deal for the area as part of the Cambridge to Oxford Arc which could see another 20 per cent of homes added on top of agreed levels.

But at Thursday's (April 25) north Northants joint planning committee at Corby Cube a number of councillors including East Northamptonshire Council leader Stephen North and leader of Wellingborough Council Martin Griffiths were critical of the amount of funds that are coming into the county to pay for infrastructure.

Cllr North said: “There have been lots of housing built in the area but we have not had the infrastructure to go with it in Northamptonshire – we have always lost out.”

Corby councillor Anthony Dady said: “We tend to see the development without the infrastructure.

“To expect local residents to put up things as they are, with, at the same time adding thousands more houses – I don’t think is right.”

Three months ago long-held plans for the Isham bypass were once again dashed as the region’s local enterprise partnership Semlep pulled £25m of funding committed to the project as it could not find the remaining millions in time.

Senior officers from across the councils recently gave a tour of the area to officials from government, Homes England and Semlep and head of the Joint Planning Unit Andrew Longley and said they were impressed with the housing development work happening.

However, he said a package of investment would need to come from central government if housing above the agreed levels was to be planned for.

He said: “We really do need a positive response from government and make clear that the appetite for growth can’t be taken for granted – it needs to be supported by a package of growth.”

Wellingborough councillor Andrew Scarborough said of the potential arc growth plans: “This is all very exciting. But sometimes I feel like I fell asleep in 2004 and I’ve come back and all the same things have applied.

“Isham bypass is a classic example of something planned for 20 years ago that has not happened.

“Given we are government’s best friend on this I think we need to be pretty hard about our ask.

“We don’t want to pick up the burden of stuff that should be happening in the other counties without the balance of jobs and infrastructure. The danger is Northamptonshire is an easy target.”

As nine members of the committee did not attend the meeting was not quorate – which meant that there were not enough members present to make official decisions.

Consultants have been commissioned to prepare an investment framework for the area that will set out ways to accelerate housing and job growth and identify priorities for future funding. This is expected to be published next month.