People are being asked for their views on a series of policies which will shape the look of the north of the county over the next 20 years.
The North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Committee has launched a consultation on a range of planning documents which cover where new housing will be built, new jobs could be created, how our town centres and estates will look in the future and how members of the public will continue to be involved.
Four highly complex planning documents which together make up the Core Strategy, which is the strategic plan for Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough, are up for discussion for the period up to 2031.
People have until Friday, October 11, to have their say.
The plan will then be finalised for consultation and examination by an independent inspector in 2014.
However, this will not happen until the Secretary of State has made his decision on the proposed retail and leisure development at Rushden Lakes.
In the meantime, the Joint Committee is consulting on strategic housing and employment sites – including a plan for a major new development at Rushden.
They are also asking for views on housing quotas and town centre spaces and movement.
The final element of the consultation is outlining how people will be enaged in plan-making and specific development proposals.
Joint committee chairman Cllr Terry Freer is urging people to provide their views.
He said: “The joint committee is keen to complete the new Joint Core Strategy and this consultation will help us to move forward as quickly as possible once the Secretary of State has made his decision on Rushden Lakes.
“The Interim Housing Policy Statement is important in the meantime because it should help the councils to plan for the right amount of housing in the right places.
“We need local input on these important issues and I’d simply say ‘don’t delay, reply today’.”
Joint Planning Unit planning manager Andrew Longley stressed that all views will be carefully considered.
He said: “This consultation is an opportunity to fine-tune parts of the emerging Joint Core Strategy and to seek views on an interim approach to housing requirements.
“Responses to the consultation documents will be reported to the Joint Committee in November.”
One of the major new elements of the proposals is the plan for up to 2,500 new homes to be built on the eastern edge of Rushden.
The plans have been welcomed by Rushden Town Council, providing they fit in with the character of the town.
“It’s something that the town council has supported since day one,” said council leader Cllr Sarah Peacock.
“It’s making sure it’s part of the town, that the design and the road links all fit in.”
Rushden Town Partnership Chairman Lorna Wiltshire echoed those sentiments.
She said: “The main thing for us is making sure there’s a sense of community.
“The location of where the proposed development is means people will be able to see the houses from the main road, so it’s quite important to get them in keeping with the historical feel to the town.
“Whenever I visit other towns I get a sense of how unique Rushden is. It’s making sure, aesthetically, the development complements our existing buildings.”
She added: “It sounds like all the points you want to see are in the report, with them taking careful consideration to integrate the development with the town.”
The Joint Planning Unit can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or telephoning 01832 742355.
PLANS FOR 2,500 RUSHDEN HOMES
The proposed housing plans for the county include a significant expansion at Rushden east of the A6, on land between the John Clark Way and Newton Road roundabouts.
The documents say this site, known as Rushden East, is the most significant new strategic development proposal over and above those already approved or identified in the 2008 adopted Core Spatial Strategy.
The document says: “The land is considered to be the most sustainable option for the future development of Rushden and provides a major opportunity for a high quality, cohesive and distinctive sustainable urban extension.
“While the A6 bypass forms a significant barrier between the proposed urban extension and Rushden, innovative solutions will be examined in order to create a development which is well-connected to Rushden and the facilities offered by the existing urban area.”
The broad location contains several farm holdings and is predominantly in agricultural use. Other land uses include nurseries, allotments, a scrapyard and some dwellings.
The document states: “Rushden East is being actively promoted by several key landowners While it is recognised that land assembly and planning processes could result in a significant
lead-in time, the local planning authority will promote and encourage early development of the urban extension.
“The allocation of a more precise development boundary will be included in a site-specific development plan document.”
The report concludes: “Land to the East of Rushden is identified as the location for a sustainable urban extension to include an indicative 2,000 to 2,500 dwellings and provision for an appropriate level of job opportunities, ancillary facilities, services and open space.
“A site specific development plan document will facilitate more detailed work with a range of stakeholders and the local community in order to allocate land for development.”
There are four key documents that members of the public and interested parties are being asked to make comments on.
1. Strategic Housing and Employment Sites
This document seeks views on a number of strategic sites and the broad location for an urban extension to the east of Rushden.
This is about the principle of development rather than the detail, which needs to be worked out in site specific plans and/or through a planning application.
2. Urban Structure Study This looks at how the layout of streets and open spaces in the towns affects the way that people can move around and suggests design principles to improve links, particularly by walking and cycling.
3. Interim Housing Policy Statement
The housing requirements in the current plan adopted in 2008 are now deemed to be out of date.
As an interim measure, until the core strategy can be finalised, the joint planning committee and partner councils are consulting onan the housing policy statement which introduces up-to-date information on housing requirements and identifies the sites that will contribute to a supply of housing over the next five years.
4. Statement of Community Involvement
To complete the package of consultation documents, views are being sought on a revised document setting out how the joint committee and partner planning authorities will seek to engage people in plan-making and in considering specific development proposals. This is something that all planning authorities are required to produce.
Extensive commitments for housing development already exist, particularly the urban extensions of Wellingborough East, Kettering East, North-East Corby, North-West Wellingborough and at Raunds.
In addition the principle of developing a sustainable urban extension at Corby West has been established in the 2008 adopted Core Strategy, although the site boundary, policy and key principles are matters for consideration as part of this consultation.
Further urban extensions are proposed as part of the strategy at West Corby, Rushden East and Rothwell North.
The Regional Plan and adopted Core Strategy set a housing target of 52,100 new homes in north Northamptonshire between 2001 and 2021 after Northamptonshire was identified as part of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Growth Area.
A total of 16,640 new homes were built up to 2011, with planning permission in place for over 20,000 more.
However, the recession has hit the rate of building.