Kettering's masterplan approved

Residents have raised concerns the plan is not 'fit for purpose' in the climate emergency world
Part Two of the Local Plan was approved via a virtual meeting.Part Two of the Local Plan was approved via a virtual meeting.
Part Two of the Local Plan was approved via a virtual meeting.

Kettering’s local masterplan will go forward to government, despite calls for a redesign for a post-Covid and climate emergency world.

After eight years in the making, the bulky Site Specific Part Two of the Local Plan was given approval by councillors at a virtual meeting last night and it will now be submitted.

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The plan agrees the detailed vision and planning policies for the borough and surrounding villages for the foreseeable future, outlining where development and recreation can take place and where housing and employment can be created. It also feeds into the bigger plan for the north of the county.

After a consultation, which had 123 responses, the authority’s planning officers made a number of modifications.

A number of residents spoke out against the plan, saying it did not take into account the climate change emergency commitment the authority made last July.

Resident Siobhan Currie, who is also a psychologist, thanked the officers for the years of planning, but said the recent global happenings had made the plan ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

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She said: “Things have changed. Primarily because of the climate emergency but also due to Covid-19 and the revelations of what is important for people and also the economy.”

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow resident Andy Parker, who said: “I think a plan like this that does not recognise a post-Covid world and is selling us short.”

And councillors Anne Lee and Jim Hakewill – who were not on the local plan committee – also agreed that the plan does not pay enough attention to climate change matters, with Cllr Lee calling on the committee to defer the plan.

But interim planning boss James Wilson said the nature of such a large plan means they are out of date before they are published and said the more weighty North Northamptonshire joint core strategy which was currently under revision would take climate concerns into consideration.

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All of the councillors on the committee voted in favour of getting the plan submitted, although Cllr Jan O’Hara expressed concerns about the need for larger housing space in the new normal of a Covid world.

Independent Cllr Ruth Groome acknowledged residents’ concerns but said the committee must stick with the plan and ‘make sure we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water’.

And Labour’s Cllr Linda Adams said she felt the local plan needed to move forward.

The plan will go to the secretary of state for communities next week and then a planning inspector will be appointed to make sure it is compliant with national guidelines.