From Middleton Residents Action Group (RAG)
In a devastating U-turn, North Northamptonshire Council (NNC/the Council) has decided not to contest the two planning appeals for Oakley Park, Middleton, which are due to be considered at a reconvened planning appeal hearing scheduled for April 2023.
The Council’s Planning Committee unanimously rejected both applications in April 2021 and, as NNC attended the (subsequently adjourned) appeal hearing in July 2022 to defend the appeals, RAG fully expected the Council to continue with their defence at the rescheduled hearing.
This news has therefore come as a massive shock, especially as RAG believes there is no justifiable basis for NNC’s decision. There are many valid planning reasons why these applications should be rejected, and the decision to not contest the appeals can only be seen as a gross and blatant dereliction of NNC’s duty and responsibility to the community.
RAG has for some time held mounting concerns about NNC’s competency, willingness and motivation to robustly prepare a comprehensive case against these retrospective appeals, and believes that the historic failure to adequately plan for gypsy and traveller sites has led NNC to disregard proper planning considerations and ‘accept’ opportunistic developments, like the intensive 3-fold, inappropriate and unsustainable expansion of Oakley Park.
RAG intends to continue to contest the 6-acre expansion of Oakley Park South based on the majority of their submitted objections still being valid. It is damning of NNC that residents are now left to continue the fight on their own and, unfortunately, without NNC backing, it is now highly likely that permission will be granted on a permanent basis for both Oakley Park applications.
Parish councils in North Northants have collectively held several meetings with senior NNC officers and councillors to voice their concerns over the lack of gypsy and traveller five year land supply, unapproved site developments and NNC’s continued failure to enforce breaches of planning conditions. But despite pressure from parish councils and groups like RAG, and with many opportunities for legal recourse, the Council has repeatedly failed to take timely and robust enforcement action.
RAG has now asked NNC to urgently explain its position and preparations for the appeal at Peasdale Hill. Another unjustifiable capitulation, purely for the convenience of the Council, simply cannot be accepted, and RAG is working with increased resolve to hold NNC, its officers and elected councillors to full account to mount a comprehensive and robust defence against Peasdale Hill.
Cottingham Parish Council Extraordinary Meeting
8 February, 6.30pm, Village Hall Annex
Cottingham Parish Council invites Cottingham residents to have their say and steer the Parish Council’s response to North Northants Council’s decision to cancel their part in the upcoming planning appeal against the two planning applications at the Oakley Park travellers’ site on Ashley Road.