This is as I have discussed on many occasions the start of the inevitable development of large-scale housing in the areas around Wotton, West Hunsbury and Collingtree which has been in local plans and policies for a number of years and in fact was agreed by the Conservative Cabinet of 2004 as part of the overall housing strategy for Northampton.
On the positive side it will, if it gets planning approval from the Borough Council planning committee, provide much-needed rented accommodation at a time when the waiting lists are increasing to record levels.
On the down side is that it once again highlights the danger of not developing and implementing the planning core strategy as a matter of urgency and is an inevitable consequence of the Governments misguided National Planning Policy Framework which is supported by Conservatives who naturally feel they should support the coalition Government.
I have always believed and have been consistent that if policies are against the interests of the people of Northampton and if opposition to them bring me into conflict with the Government then as a local councillor it is my duty and responsibility to oppose.
The question the people of Wotton, West Hunsbury and Collingtree will now be asking is what position will the local Conservative County and Borough Councillors take and will they stand up and oppose the developments as promised or will they find a way of making it look as if they are opposing them while behind closed doors be agreeing to go along with them?
Only a very public statement of opposition will satisfy those who supported them and trusted them with their votes.
I’m sure that many people in Northampton think the planning committee, made up of elected councillors can just turn down planning applications simply because they don’t like it, or because political colleagues ask them to for electoral reasons.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What cannot be allowed to happen, should permission for the development to go ahead be granted, is for blame to be levelled at the Northampton Borough Council planning committee who as an all party group are bound to look only at the legal issues around any planning application and may well be subject to a legal challenge if they operate outside of the law.