Borough Council of Wellingborough

Virtual Development Committee Monday 18 January 2021

The meeting will take place virtually from 7pm. Members of the public will be able to view the meeting live from 7pm using Microsoft Teams.

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Councillors consider the future of Wellingborough town centre site

Published Wednesday, 18 November 2020

The future of the High Street/Jacksons Lane site in Wellingborough town centre was considered by councillors on Tuesday night (16 November) at a lengthy additional meeting of the Resources Committee.

Following a competitive procurement process in 2011, the Council had approved Keepmoat as the preferred developer for the site and since then has been in dialogue with them about its future.
 
A report to Tuesday night’s meeting presented the timeline of events since the procurement exercise and councillors were being asked to consider the town’s requirements for the site to be appropriately developed.
 
Keepmoat had made several changes to the original proposals and had sought pre-application advice on the latest as follows:
• 121 dwellings providing a range of 1-4 bedroom accommodation; an increase from 114
• A mix of houses and apartments providing 1-4 bed accommodation; a slight increase in the proportion of houses and smaller house types to encourage first time buyers
• A mix of tenures providing 30% affordable housing; an increase from the 20% approved originally.
• Predominantly 2 storey development with up to 2.5 storey houses and 3 storey apartments to add interest; maintaining similar characteristics to the approved scheme
 
Councillors heard from several speakers, including a ward member and local residents, and debated the matter for almost three hours, of which one hour was held in private session for commercial confidentiality reasons.
 
After robust discussion and questions to officers, the committee is recommending:
(a) subject to contract, the council agreeing to sell High Street/Jackson’s Lane site to Keepmoat Homes, subject to meeting all of the following conditions:
(i) the site is sold for development of residential housing and public car parking;
(ii) the agreed price is not to be less than the price detailed at 5.1 of the Deloitte report, exempt appendix 5, to the report;
(iii) An overage is paid;
(iv) A revised planning application, including a section 106 agreement, being approved by this council (or its successors) no later than 30 September 2021
(b) delegate to the assistant director (corporate landlord) the responsibility to agree the terms of the contract for disposal, such contract to be brought back to council for approval;
(c) A capital scheme being submitted for the construction of the approved indicative scheme, as detailed in appendix 4 to the report, for a new surface car park of approximately 200 spaces, such car parking scheme to be completed before the commencement of construction of the High Street/Jacksons Lane site
 
With seven committee members voting for and five voting against the proposals, the above recommendations will now be considered by a meeting of the Full Council on 8 December.
There will be ample opportunity for the public to engage in the statutory planning consultation once the application has been submitted.
 
Anyone wishing to speak at this meeting may do so by visiting the council’s website at https://www.wellingborough.gov.uk/forms/form/203/en/speaking_at_council_meetings or emailing chiefexecutive@wellingborough.gov.uk. Any comments on the proposal can also be sent via email. 
 
Leader of the Council, and Chairman of the Resources Committee, Councillor Martin Griffiths, said: “This will be a major decision for the Council at its meeting in December and also be taken prior to the Borough Council of Wellingborough becoming part of the new North Northants Council on 1 April 2021.
 
“After 14 years and lots of failed potential uses, the latest plans include a purpose-built car park. Although it is planned to redevelop the existing site, the council will be replacing this with a brand-new surface car park for approximately 200 cars. There will still be in excess of 2000 car parking spaces in the town centre.
 
“Members have already agreed to the sale of the Drill Hall and 8a High Street and these sales were completed in August this year.
 
“We have to meet the demands and needs of the changing face of high streets up and down the country. Above all of that, additional housing in our town centre will inevitably further benefit our businesses.
 
“High Streets throughout the country are all adapting to address modern shopping habits, and many are developing similar ‘brown field’ sites to improve footfall to help local businesses, shops and hospitality venues.  
 
“We have other plans to improve the public realm spaces in Wellingborough to help make the town centre a place that people will want to visit.”