Employment park for Northants awarded planning permission

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Councillors have agreed to approve a planning application for a large new employment park on the edge of Towcester.

The application was determined by councillors on South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee on Thursday, (January 7), is essentially a ‘hybrid’ application made up of two separate schemes.

The first is for outline permission for an employment park with industrial and warehouse uses, ancillary offices and small standalone office space.

It also proposes a car showroom and petrol filling station uses, and/or retail and restaurant uses. Awarding outline permission essentially grants permission in principle for such a scheme, but issues such as the design and layout of buildings would be included in a full application at a later date.

The second part of the scheme is seeking full planning permission for a new roundabout access from the A43 and a spine road for the development. The Tiffield Lane/A43 junction would be altered to enable left in and left out turnings only.

Plans for the 34 hectare site, which neighbours the A43 and is just to the south of the village of Tiffield, had been met with strong opposition from some local residents and parish councils. Almost 140 households had made representations to date objecting against the scheme, while Tiffield Parish Council wrote in its objection: “There is a lack of clarity about the exact nature of the development which means that the impacts of the development cannot be fully understood.

“The new Hulcote turn roundabout would result in making Northampton Road a rat run and increase traffic congestion in Towcester which in turn would exacerbate air pollution. Proposed pedestrian and cycle links between Towcester and Tiffield and Bell Plantation are inconvenient and potentially dangerous and could result in congestion on the A43. Suggestions are made for a footbridge which could provide a safe and practical green corridor connecting Towcester to Northampton.”

Eaton Neston Parish Council added to the objections, saying there was ‘unsubstantiated demand’ for such an employment park, adding: “Such a large development goes beyond that consistent with a ‘rural service centre’ with no justification of the availability of a local workforce to fill the jobs created and no evidence of a demand for the proposed uses in the area.”

Planning officers had recommended the scheme be delegated to the council’s assistant director for planning and economy to grant permission, and a majority chose to follow that advice.

One of the committee members, Councillor Paul Wiltshire, said: “We’re in the position where we have a simple choice. We can either refuse the application, or we created the Local Plan and everything has been worked in accordance with that and we can approve the application that lets the officers carry on to work the fine details.”

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