Go West! Thousands of new homes given green light for Corby farmland

The plans for 4,500 new homes in Corby with the existing A6003 to the right of the picture and the water towers at the top right
The plans for 4,500 new homes in Corby with the existing A6003 to the right of the picture and the water towers at the top right

Councillors last night gave the nod to the 4,500-home Corby West development that will be built on fields to the west of the A6003 over the next 25 years.

The huge scheme, that will include three new primary schools and a secondary school, two community centres, a 'high street' and will provide up to 3,000 jobs, was given the go-ahead despite concerns raised over the level of affordable housing and the rise traffic on the A6003 and through nearby villages.

Corby Council's planning committee

Corby Council's planning committee

The developers have said that in order to make enough money, they can only offer five per cent affordable housing, although if the twenty five-year scheme becomes more profitable in the future the council may be able to renegotiate its position.

There were 39 objections from residents as well as formal objections from Sport England, Northamptonshire County Council's Ecology and Minerals and Waste departments as well as Cottingham, East Carlton, Rockingham and Middleton parish councils.

Several of those objectors spoke at last night's (Thursday, September 29) Corby Cube meeting as well as some of those in favour of the development - landowners Alexander De Capell Brooke representing Great Oakley estates and James Saunders-Watson, owner of Rockingham Estates.

The scheme will make a significant dent in Corby Council's mandatory five year housing land supply which commits it to providing deliverable sites for 3,000 homes before 2023.

Alexander de Capell Brooke is one of the West Corby landowners

Alexander de Capell Brooke is one of the West Corby landowners

Planning officer Alex Jelley said care had been taken to ensure the scheme became a part of Corby and not just a 'bolt on'.

He said that the borough's usual 20 per cent affordable housing obligation was not viable on the site, but that the developer would contribute £122m towards highways improvements, schools, public transport, fire and rescue, sport, healthcare and community centres.

As part of the plans, the BP Fourways and Beefeater roundabouts will get traffic lights. The Vian Way junction will be altered so no right turns are allowed and there will be a new roundabout at Danesholme Road. There will also be a new road from West Corby through fields to the A427 Market Harborough Road. In Kettering, the Barford Bridge roundabout, the Rockingham Road/A43 roundabout and the A14 junction 7 exits will be altered to account for the increase in traffic.

But there is no traffic mitigation planned for Caldecott, which is just three miles away.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Lucy Stephenson, Rutland County Council Portfolio Holder for Highways said that there were 8,000 traffic movements through Caldecott each day and that this would increase to 12,500 by 2021. She said that the developer's traffic flow estimations were based data that was a decade old.

She added: "Caldecott residents have expressed concerns for many years that the current single-file, traffic-light controlled bridge at the southern entrance to the village is not fit for modern traffic flows."

Rutland Councillor Andrew Brown said that Caldecott should be considered a priority, and that money should be raised for a feasibility study to look at providing a bypass for the village.

Chair of Middleton Parish Council Sarah Brant said that villagers were worried that traffic would be so heavy on the A6003 and A427 that motorists would start to use villages to bypass the problems. Traffic measures are not planned to start until after the completion of the 100th home, but Cllr Grant said that work should start immediately.

East Carlton Parish Council Chair Gavin Chambers said that there was not enough affordable housing on the development. He said: "(Corby Council) didn't deliver any affordable housing on Oakley Vale, it delivered very little at Priors Hall and here we are again debating another development with very little low cost housing.

"If this scheme is not affordable to local people then it will be sold to people from outside the local area. The plan is flawed. It's not delivering the housing mix required."

Alexander de Capell Brooke of Great Oakley Estates said they had a responsibility to ensure that West Corby was an 'outstanding development' and that it had been 20 years in the planning. He said they had worked with some of the most influential architects in the country, adding: "There will be a shop from day one, a community concierge, an Amazon drop-off point and somewhere where you can hire a bike."

James Saunders-Watson of Rockingham Estates said that the owners would retain the public open spaces and commercial areas. He added that they would learn from the management of other local developments that had not been so successful.

Planning committee members Cllrs Julie Riley, Anthony Dady, Matt Reay, Lawrence Ferguson, Kevin Watt, and Jean Addison questioned officer Alex Jelley on issues including the Vian Way junction and the affordable housing provision.

Cllr Addison said that the traffic issues gave her 'great concern' and said that the Vian Way junction was not acceptable. Mr Jelley said that NCC's Highways Department had said that it was an acceptable proposal, but that there was an 'unspecified' £250k pot of money for other highways improvements that may be utilised.

Concerns of the effect of the development on flooding at Gainsborough Road was raised by Cllr Watt, who was informed by Mr Jelley that the developer's proposals should help with the flooding issues. Cllr Watt also asked the developer for assurances that they would endeavour to supply as much affordable housing as possible to ensure that it was a 'mixed, viable community.'

Cllr Anthony Dady said that he had been telling the joint planning unit for 'years' that the A6003 should be dualed. He said: "If we go ahead with the recommendation it will be with somewhat of a heavy heart. It's my opinion that many thousands of people would suffer so that a few thousand people can have a new home."

Cllr Ferguson asked what the incentive would be on the developer to negotiate the level of affordable housing in the future.

Mr Jelley said: "It's going to be very difficult for CBC to deliver its housing targets which will have an impact on its five year housing land supply, which will put pressure on other parts of the borough to deliver that housing growth that could and should come through on this particular proposal.

"It's right to say that, at present, the only bankable percentage is five per cent."

Cllr Reay, who declared a non-prejudicial interest as an employee of the Brooke Weston Trust, said: "I am personally not happy with five per cent but five per cent is better than zero per cent."

All councillors voted in favour of the scheme. Parish councils were offered the chance to sit on a committee to discuss any ongoing traffic issues.

Not available to attend last night's meeting were committee members Cllrs Eyles, Brown, Sims and Latta.