Andrea Leadsom MP response to South Northants Supplementary Planning Document
|Author: Laura Emily Dunn - Conservative
|Published: 19th August 2022 09:02
Rt Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP
South Rt Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP for South Northamptonshire letter published in full.
Northamptonshire Part 2 Local Plan - Employment Allocations Supplementary Planning Document - Consultation
I write in my capacity as Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire in response to this consultation and on behalf of my constituents who have expressed their serious concerns to me about the future of the town.
I hear with increasing frequency from constituents who are deeply apprehensive about the existing capacity of the road network, the scale of development sites already identified as part of the Local Plan Part 2, and the number of planning applications, notably AL1, AL2, AL4 and AL5 that are the subject of the SPD.
Combined with AL3, which received approval earlier this year, these existing development proposals will negatively affect the character of Towcester while simultaneously increasing traffic on local roads as well as the major roads network.
It is important that the SPD considers the following:
Air quality: The A5, particularly Watling Street, is constantly at a standstill with traffic. Air quality is poor, and residents have been advised by West Northamptonshire Council to keep their windows closed for their own health. What practical measures does the local authority have in place to tackle this problem and will these form part of the SPD and requirements for future planning applications?
Traffic: traffic modelling is not consistent and a cumulative traffic assessment should be undertaken to cover all of the AL sites. The Towcester Relief Road is in its construction phase and this vital piece of infrastructure was designed to help to relieve longstanding issues for residents. Whilst Persimmon are committed to delivering the relief road by spring 2023, this road is not designed to enable future development to the south of the area. I am continuing to pursue restrictions on HGVs through the centre of Towcester with local representatives and National Highways. Continued use of the A5 Watling Street by these vehicles would cause detrimental, irreversible damage to our area and should be considered as part of the future development viability for the south of Towcester.
Employment: detailed information should be provided by developers as to the economic and social benefits that employment opportunities from their development would bring to the local area as well as the specific type of employment (skilled or semi skilled) that is on offer. It is not desirable to have large additional numbers of warehousing roles in an area with close to full employment as it will necessitate further inward commuting from significant distances.
Height and appearance of units: The SPD provides definitions for a small, medium or large building size unit, with small ranging in size at 250m2 to 2,500m2, medium between 2,500m2 to 8,000m2 and large with a minimal footprint of 8,000m2. The SPD should have stronger guidance in place, with specific height and footprints restrictions issued, particularly for large units. No building should be visible above tree lines or over the height of any existing buildings in the vicinity and tree screening should be used to minimise the appearance of new buildings. The local authority should be clearer about what type of screening is used and provide greater detail on the landscaping that is acceptable.
I echo the comments made in the submission by the residents of Slapton and Save Towcester Now whereby no new building on any of these sites should have a footprint that is greater than 5,000 square metres.
Local, historic surroundings: any new developments should respect and enhance the local environment, particularly the historic nature of Towcester and its surrounding villages.
Active travel: the opportunities and benefits of active travel provision (cycling, walking) should also be considered as part of the plan as well as what financial provision the local authority has for specific and wider projects.
As I have reiterated in previous correspondence, these applications will continue to exert pressure on our local area and its essential infrastructure, making it more important than ever that the Farthinghoe Bypass and the northern Northampton ring road are expedited, with funding options explored and obtained as a priority action by West Northamptonshire Council.
Concerns over planning and the future of Towcester is the top local issue that constituents write to me about. The volume of cases has increased in recent years as residents become even more concerned about the development of the local area, and the impact continued construction will have on businesses, health, wellbeing and way of life. I fully support my constituents in their calls for action to be taken to protect our local area, and to ensure that South Northamptonshire can be an attractive place to both live and work.
In summary, whilst I welcome the SPD and the chance to share the views of my constituents and myself, I would like to reiterate that a thorough review of the road and transport infrastructure needs to take place. Any further developments in our area will require improvements to major roads to be carried out in advance.
Please take this letter into consideration in the consultation on future plans.
Rt Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP