West Northamptonshire inquiry: Bid to develop structure plan

An inquiry into plans to build 20,000 homes over the next 13 years in west Northamptonshire is due to open.

Under scrutiny are applications for homes in major towns such as Towcester, Brackley, and Daventry.

Developments in villages will also be discussed. The aim is to produce a structure plan by the autumn.

Many homes will be "affordable", but campaigners say the number of new houses is unacceptable as they threaten greenbelt and the countryside.

No new housing estates will be allowed before suitable community facilities and infrastructure are in place, planners said.

Local councils say the new homes are needed to meet existing need and to bring jobs and investment to the area.

Confidence boost

The inquiry in Northampton aims to balance requirements for new homes against objections from existing residents.

The objective is to establish a structure that will allow developers to present proposals with confidence.

Chris Millar, leader of Daventry District Council and a past chair of the west Northamptonshire joint planning unit, said that many agreed projects were still to start.

"Recent lack of finance has delayed many developments which already have permission.

"The new structure plan is aimed at helping the application process and also to protect communities against unsuitable growth - especially in villages.

"There is a real need for more housing but developments will not be able to go ahead until schools, health centres, roads and other local infrastructure is in place," he said.

The inquiry is expected to take several weeks to complete and will hear evidence from residents, councils, developers and interested parties.

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