A deep sorrow has swept this town and borough over the past few days.
A group of just four senior local Conservative councillors, three of which sit on the council’s cabinet (executive committee), voted in favour of including a housing allocation on Rockingham Road stadium in a local draft planning document, the CSS.
The sale of Rockingham Road stadium to a property developer was publicised just days later.
The council on the night was seeking to allocate 340 potential housing sites from a number of sites that can provide up to about 1,000.
The 88 houses for this historic site were not needed to meet this figure, but senior councillors voted to include it regardless.
Never have I seen such a mass outpouring of grief from the local community.
Never before has a community felt so unrepresented by their elected representatives. I am sure wealthy land owners and developers have felt more than represented in this saga.
The spoils of this council administration fall not to our residents.
Not only did the Conservative council deny the local population a chance to bid and raise funds for the site via the rejection of two community asset bids, but they also sent strong signals to housing developers that they want to see houses here and, thus, increased the value of the land beyond the reach of anyone with aspirations to restore this facility for its intended use.
It is a double whammy to the hearts of this area.
I fear that if this site makes it through to the final housing allocations after public consultation, that not only will we see houses on this site, but the council would have pardoned developers from their obligations to help to provide an alternative facility elsewhere out of the profits from any future housing development.
This is despite both a manifesto promise at the last election to help local sports teams realise their own aspirations in the borough which was backed up subsequently via a cross-party resolution to full council.
Kettering Council through their senior officers have, in the past, written to the land owners saying a development on this site would require private funds towards a new facility for sports in Kettering.
However, they now seem to be making moves to remove this important and vital requirement, which terrifies me if it proves to be true.
This baffles me, and I am sure that most residents will question the motives and ask themselves, why?
It is now important that we either fight any future allocations of housing on this site, any future planning application and that if that fight is lost, Kettering Council should at least compel developers to do the right thing for the local community, and help provide a modest facility to keep sports alive in this town and bring back our historic civic pride.
Cllr Michael Brown