As the local County Councillor for the area I addressed Kettering Borough’s Planning Committee about the proposal to build 350 new homes in the fields alongside Gipsy Lane last night. I have been involved with this project for years, having first attended the public consultation event put on by the developers and then countless meetings with residents, highways officers and council planners.
My concerns were with the plans to chop down eighteen of the mature trees along the lane which make such a beautiful local feature, and of the potential for traffic problems with the proposed new entrances onto Gipsy Lane. I made the point that planners should look at the long term impact of their decisions because of the affect on future generations for years to come.
I also spoke in particular about my concerns that traffic lights were being proposed at the junction outside the crematorium and not a roundabout. It seems clear to me that the stop/start traffic caused by traffic lights during the rush hour would cause chaos with the potential for tailbacks way past the hospital in one direction, and back to the A14 in the other.
Cllr. Keli Watts was the first member to speak and was brilliant! She tore into the plans echoing some of the points I and the one local resident who was allowed to speak made, and finished off by quoting directly from the governments current housing and planning white paper saying that, “Local people should be involved in what developments look like…. Well the local County Councillor doesn’t like what this looks like, the local ward Councillor doesn’t like what this looks like, the local residents don’t like what this looks like and I don’t like what this looks like”. Other councillors took up her lead and all spoke against the proposal.
The killer punch I think came however, when an officer from NCC Highways admitted there were already traffic problems in the area and would continue to be so, and that while they were not against a roundabout, traffic lights were the only option they were being offered by the developer. Cllr Linda Adams took up this theme and quoted him by saying “The people of Kettering deserved better than the best that can be done within existing constraints”.
As the debate drew to its close Cllr. Ash Davies took up a point I had made earlier by saying if a roundabout was needed, it needed to be done now while there ware infrastructure contributions from the developer available. I had made the point that if traffic lights were put in and didn’t work, the County Council wouldn’t have the money to change things later.
The Committee unanimously agreed to defer a decision until the developer came back with a proposal that included a roundabout and dealt with the access issues!
I’d like to say well done to all of the Councillors. We all know there will be housing built on that site at some stage. Residents have agreed this all along, but it has to be the right development and it has to be done sympathetically.