Furious top councillors and outdoors campaigners are vowing to kill off any attempt to drive through a “monster” new 2,000-house estate being built on the southern edge of Market Harborough.
Cllr Phil Knowles warned the potential massive development between Market Harborough and East Farndon bringing in thousands of new residents would totally overwhelm the entire area.
And Peter Pollak, 75, who leads the Open Spaces Society, the UK’s oldest national conservation group, is calling on the people of Harborough to unite to stop the “disastrous” scheme in its tracks.
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They both hit the warpath as West Northamptonshire Council urged people on both sides of the county boundary line to make their voices heard now in a wide-ranging public consultation.
Cllr Knowles, who heads up the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough District Council, told the Harborough Mail: “I have very serious concerns about this – and I will fight it tooth and nail.
“We all know that this is in the very early stages as the land between Market Harborough and East Farndon is just being looked at and eyed up at the moment.
“But that’s why it’s so vital we all come together now to make sure this never gets off the ground.
“It’s no good waiting until this time next year when we’re so far down the road that it’s too late to do anything,” insisted Cllr Knowles.
“Bringing 7,000 or 8,000 more people right on to our doorsteps over the next few years would be absolutely catastrophic.
“It would have a gigantic impact on the creaking infrastructure of Market Harborough – and beyond.
“Our schools, medical centres, dentist’s and community hospital are already all under immense pressure as it is.
“Not to mention our roads and car parks.
“A new estate this size would dramatically change the very fabric and character of the place where we live.
“We are very vulnerable because of our geographical location as we sit right on the border with Northamptonshire,” said Cllr Knowles.
“We already have hundreds of homes being built around Market Harborough, where ever you look.
“But this is on a different scale full stop – it’s right off the map.
“We’d lose our entire identity - and our infrastructure would collapse.
“So we all have to stand together to block this now.”
Peter Pollak, who lives on Market Harborough’s Farndon Fields near the mooted blueprint, told the Mail: “We have to stop this because I don’t think Market Harborough will cope if it happens.
“This is a true monster – and it’s shocking.
“All of the 8,000 or so people who would live there would come into Market Harborough to shop, to go to the doctor’s, to attend school.
“Daventry, their nearest town in Northamptonshire, is at least half an hour away from East Farndon.
“So they’d stream into Market Harborough instead – and it would be disastrous, we’d be over-run,” said Peter.
“We were promised so many new resources and services here on Farndon Fields – and we are still waiting years later.
“We just cannot afford to carry on losing all of our precious open space as our priceless outdoors get ripped away from us.
“I am appealing to everyone who lives in Market Harborough, East Farndon and the whole area to tell West Northamptonshire Council that this is a total non-starter.”
Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough council, said: “I do understand that there will be a lot of concerns about this.
“Our infrastructure needs and requirements would be a key part of any discussions we have with West Northants council about this.
“We all have a rigorous duty to co-operate with our fellow councils,” stressed Cllr King.
“There would have to be a contribution to Market Harborough’s transport strategy – and a new road linking the A508 to the A6.
“I can understand why this has come forward.
“But it will have to go through an inspection process.
“And without contributions to our infrastructure we would object to their local plan.
“Any large-scale development such as this needs to be considered holistically and all the implications and impact looked at.
“But there is a long way to go yet and we’ll see what happens.”
East Farndon Parish Council said they were “concerned” about the game-changing scheme as they gear up to discuss it at their next meeting on Tuesday November 9.
“We will be creating a formal response in time for the WNC (West Northamptonshire Council) deadline of December 6.
“We want to ensure that all village residents are aware of these potential developments and encourage them to communicate with the parish council and provide individual feedback directly into the WNC consultation process,” said the village council.
Cllr Rebecca Breese, West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Built Environment and Rural Affairs, said they are exhorting people to make their views known.
“We’ve done our best to make sure everyone has a chance to have their say.
“Our drop-in sessions are taking place in some of the areas that have been identified as having potential for future building.
“We are ensuring events we hold are within reasonable reach of several areas where development could take place.
“We’re also organising a series of online events which people can register for, giving them the opportunity to discuss the plans and give their feedback,” said Cllr Breese.
“And of course, we’ll have physical copies of the relevant documents in a range of public buildings, along with paper forms that people can fill in.”
West Northamptonshire Council’s Strategic Plan (WNSP) states: “An area of land situated to the south of Market Harborough has been promoted previously through the call for sites process with a potential capacity of approximately 2,000 dwellings.
“Whilst the site is well-related to Market Harborough and would enable access for sustainable travel modes it does feature some notable constraints, part of the area is identified as special landscape area and it is relatively close to nearby scheduled monuments.
“Further historic assets exist in East Farndon and any development would need to protect against coalescence.
“Given the relationship of the area with Market Harborough, it is acknowledged that development in this location could help to meet the housing needs of Harborough District,” says the plan.
“As part of fulfilling requirements related to the duty to cooperate, discussions have taken place with officers at Harborough District Council.
“And at present, given they are in the formative stages of updating their local plan, it is not possible to establish at this time whether there is a need for land in this area to come forward.
“However, mindful that the WNSP covers the period to 2050 it felt appropriate to acknowledge the long-term development potential in this area and the need to maintain constructive dialogue with Harborough District Council moving forward.”
You can have your say on the council’s strategic plan until 11.59pm on Monday December 6.
Virtual public events will take place between 6pm and 7.30pm on Thursday October 21, Wednesday October 27 and Monday November 1.
You can find out more here:
West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan Spatial Options Consultation - West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (inconsult.uk)
Public drop-in sessions are planned to take place as follows but will depend on any changes to the Covid-19 restrictions by the Government:
· Tuesday November 2 – Wootton Community Centre, 2pm to 6pm
· Thursday November 4 – Saxon Suite, Daventry Leisure Centre 1pm to 5:30pm
· Tuesday November 9 – Moulton Community Centre, 1pm to 5:30pm
· Wednesday November 10 – Brackley Methodist Church, 2pm to 6pm
· Thursday November 11 – The Forum, Towcester, 2pm to 6pm.
Physical copies of the documents will be available to view at the following buildings:
· West Northamptonshire Council offices at:
o Lodge Road, Daventry
o The Guildhall, Northampton
o The Forum, Towcester
· All public libraries in West Northamptonshire.
Anyone who needs further information can contact the strategic plan team at [email protected] or on 0300 126 1900 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday during the consultation.