Villages ‘under pressure’ over development

Save Irchester Village chairman Chris Stening and MP Peter Bone with villagers
Save Irchester Village chairman Chris Stening and MP Peter Bone with villagers

A council has been criticised for not building enough homes in a town and leaving the surrounding villages open to over-development.

A recent decision by Wellingborough councillors to defer negotiations with developers over the land for the Wellingborough north development has angered some rural politicians.

The deal, which would see 3,000 homes built on land off Niort Way and Northen Way, was put back for six months.

The criticisms come after the borough council was forced to defend its decision to refuse planning permission for 124 homes to be built on the outskirts of Irchester at a planning appeal inquiry.

Wollaston Parish Council wrote to Wellingborough Council leader Paul Bell to express disappointment over the recent deferral, calling it “a wasteful delay of six months”.

John Mitchell, chairman of Wollaston Parish Council, said: “As a consequence of the failure to bring forward the development of Wellingborough East and Wellingborough North, the rural area is under growing pressure to provide sites for development.

“In reaching a decision on the Redrow Homes appeal at Earls Barton in 2012, the inspector indicated that ‘had the council been able to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing this appeal would have been dismissed’.

“The shortfall of housing provision is acute and addressing the issue should not be delayed waiting for other sites to come forward. The borough is now trying to defend an appeal at Irchester where the absence of a five-year supply is, once again, a key issue.”

The Irchester appeal inquiry concluded last week. Inspector John Felgate is expected to make a decision on the application within the next two months.

The Save Irchester Village campaign group fought against the plans because the houses would be outside the village boundaries. The application also includes plans for a medical centre and an extension of the playing pitches for Irchester Sports Club.

Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, addressed the inquiry – the first inquiry he’d addressed during his seven years as an MP – because he said granting planning permission outside the village boundaries would set a precedent.