In September 2002 Lord Rooker, the Minister for Regeneration, came to Northampton to make an announcement that would split opinions across Northamptonshire. 167 thousand new homes were to be built in the county in the next thirty years. And of those, 47 thousand would be heading to Northampton.
|New houses in Northampton|
Now, that number’s been disputed at every turn, with Government claims that the overall figure of 167 thousand had significantly reduced to 99,500. But opponents argue that the revised number is just “spin”, claiming it only accounts for houses up to 2021.
So where do the candidates in Northampton South stand when it comes to the planned development?
Labour’s Tony Clarke isn’t opposed – but wants to ensure that the town’s ready to cope: “Let’s be sensitive about where they’re built, let’s make sure the investment and the infrastructure’s there first, but let’s still give the developer a hard time," he says.
Brian Binley, for the Conservatives, is vehement in his opposition: “The Conservative party will scrap Prescott’s housing plans which are dumping housing and much of the South East housing need on Northamptonshire. We think that’s unfair, we think it’s unsustainable.”
Kevin Barron for the Liberal Democrats has similar concerns: “It’ll just become a congestion nightmare, I think there are places to have it and places not, and I don’t think Northampton is geographically really built to take this kind of thing.”
Save Our Soil
Opponents of the plans are accused of being NIMBY’s (Not in my back yard), after all development is inevitable - but supporters of the plans are told they’re threatening the countryside. Whatever the case, the plans have caused such a stir that a party's been set up in Northampton solely to fight this very issue. It’s called Save Our Soil.
John Harrisson, from Duston, is standing for SOS: “Nobody can accuse Northamptonians of being NIMBY’s because since 1970 we have accepted a 50% increase in our population, but we are certainly against this type of over-the-top development plan.”
Christian People's Alliance
Timothy Webb’s standing for Christian People’s Alliance: “We believe that half the housing need is due to breakdown in families – we need to tackle the real problem behind the requirement for such large housing plans to go forward.”
Eamonn Fitzpatrick is a market trader from Northampton who’s standing as an Independent: “I think it’s terrible for the kids – our kids have got no chance of getting on the housing market. They can’t build housing quick enough as far as I’m concerned.”
Derek Clark is from the United Kingdom Independence Party: “We get out of the EU, we stop the immigrants coming in huge numbers and the need for the housing disappears.”
Tony Green’s standing for Veritas: “I think it's completely disgraceful. It's a disregard for the people who already live here, and I’m totally against any wholesale redevelopment of this kind.
Monster Raving Looney
And not forgetting John Percival from the Monster Raving Looney Party who says “If more houses were made out of straw it would be better for the environment.”
As always, it’s up to the voter to decide which party’s talking sense.