Decision time for contested Corby steelworks housing development

The proposed housing scheme at Tata Steel Gate One
The proposed housing scheme at Tata Steel Gate One

A blueprint to provide 90 new houses and apartments on a derelict steelworks site in Corby is to go before the council’s planning committee next week.

Far-reaching plans to build the houses alongside a junior football pitch and shops an extra will be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday night.

The developer already has permission to convert the former eight-storey office block and a smaller three-storey block at the former Tata Steel Gate One to 104 flats.

A similar housing scheme was dismissed out of hand at the end of last year by council officers before it got to committee who had ‘grave concerns’ over its proximity to the steelworks and the sewage works.

This second scheme is also recommended for refusal but this time it will go before the council’s development control committee.

The new scheme, submitted by Corby firm MPB Structures which has its offices on the border of the site, also includes shops, a play area and a dedicated junior football pitch.

The council has objected to the scheme on a range of issues including safeguarding an existing employment site, a lack of safe walking routes into other parts of Corby, small room sizes in the houses and a lack of suitability of the site to be used as housing because of its proximity to Tata Steel, the Viridor recycling site and the sewage works.

The council also says no viability assessment was provided by the developer.

But the developer says that it has repeatedly faced issues in communicating with the council and has not been able to arrange meetings with officers to talk about the issues.

They say the report written by officers does not take into account their latest position and despite this, a deferral to the October meeting had been refused by the authority.

They have submitted a lengthy document which answers some of the concerns that planners raise.

MPB’s planning director Simon Machen said that he had been disappointed by the council’s approach to the application.

He said: “We are committed to providing affordable housing in Corby.

“The recent Gladman Homes planning appeal ruled that Corby Council will not meet its five-year housing land supply.

“We will make a significant contribution to that. The site has been vacant for many years.

“We have an oversupply of employment land in Corby and the government has been clear that if there is an oversupply, then employment land can be used for housing.

“We’re a Corby company with a £120m turnover. We’re a key local employer and the development is next to our own offices so we want to get this right.

“It’s a high quality development with a youth football pitch - something Corby currently doesn’t have.

“We are urging the committee to approve this application because there are no grounds not to.”

Mr Machen said the application has received letters of support from the Old Village Residents Association and the East Lloyds Residents Association as well as members of the public who say that it will have no effect on existing residents, will improve a brownfield site and create a new community in the town.

One supporter said that he had found it incredibly difficult to find an affordable flat to rent in Corby - a town that he wished to move to from Derby.

Both Tata Steel and BOC have objected because they believe the close-by housing will affect the way in which they can carry out their 24-hour industrial operations.

The meeting takes place at 7pm on Tuesday (September 3) at the Corby Cube and is open to members of the public.