Acting on behalf of local residents in the Collingtree and Wootton Brook area, I have today appeared in front of a Planning Appeal inquiry to challenge the developers Bovis Homes over their proposals for the Northampton South Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) at Collingtree. Alongside David Mackintosh MP, the Member of Parliament for Northampton South, I brought the crucial issues of flooding, traffic, air pollution and infrastructure that residents have raised with me over many years to the attention of the Planning Inspectorate.
Despite putting across a number of direct points to the Planning Inspectorate, and referring to evidence-based analyses of local, regional and national planning policy guidance, the Inspectorate's QC declined to ask me any questions on my deposition.
Both David and myself are deeply concerned that the opportunity to further explore local residents' concerns was squandered and, following the meeting, a number of constituents wondered if their local MPs were not questioned because the QC was fearful of what else might be raised.
This came after I had put on the official record that the flood risk provision was not in line with planning guidance as per Northampton Borough Council's Northamptonshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, and that local residents believed that impropriety had taken place regarding threats of legal action against the Borough Council.
It is a matter of record that the Borough Council have rejected the SUE at Collingtree, as they did at Hardingstone, and government policy is quite clear that local residents should decide where development in their area occurs. Alternatives should be explored and agreed in conjunction with local planning bodies and the developers.
We await the outcome of the Planning Appeal inquiry, and I will continue to do all that I can to represent the very clear views of local residents on this matter.
You may be interested in correspondence that I have had with the Planning Inspectorate, including my submission against the proposals at Collingtree, as well as with the Environment Agency. These are available below.