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If you are contemplating writing an objection letter, you may find some useful reminders on this page.

In the following presentation, you can view most of the photographs full-size in a new window by clicking on them.

ISSUES & CONCERNS

The planning process is governed by legislation, and it can sometimes seem as if legislative considerations take priority over merely human concerns. We rely on the human element which operates the process to introduce a measure of commonsense and good judgement. We have seen and admired this human element in the deliberations of the Borough Council of Wellingborough's Planning Committee.

Nonetheless, it can sometimes seem as if the practical concerns of village inhabitants can be trumped by regulations draughted by people far away. We can only point out the practical problems which our familiarity with the neighbourhood uniquely fits us to do.

Village character, inadequate infrastructure and the loss of natural habitats are some of the major concerns. Let's get started …

SPRAWL

We don’t want the village to sprawl over the surrounding countryside. A development on the Chester Road site would lie outside the village boundary, on agricultural land. Barwood further magnified the adverse effect by increasing the number of houses in its second proposal.

A development on the Chester Road site would mean that when entering the village from the north and north-west we would no longer see the pleasing rural aspect which we prize.

Moreover, if such a development does not fill the entire site, it seems probable that once a precedent has been set further developments will follow on the rest of the site.

The second Barwood proposal contended that building adjacent to the existing boundary of the village would “soften” that boundary. That risible contention ignored the abrupt transition between old and new building styles and materials, and it also ignored the fact that the new development would have had its own boundary, far to the north-west of the village and not so very far from Irchester Country Park.

CONSISTENCY

A large scale urbanised development would not match the diverse character of the existing village. On rising land adjacent to the village, it would dominate the landscape and irreparably damage the present visual amenity.

Outline plans give no information about the types of dwellings, their designs, or the materials from which they are to be constructed. It seems unlikely that modern structures of largely uniform materials will sit well with the varied and characterful old buildings in the north-west quadrant of the village.

QUOTAS

Top-down planning by remote governing bodies can produce inappropriate decisions. Data can be patchy and out of date, and the process can lead to generalisations which take no account of local circumstances. Building on agricultural land is promoted as a way of solving a housing shortage. However, a recent survey found no fewer than eighty unoccupied dwellings in the village, so there doesn't seem to be any shortage here.

With the Wellingborough North and Wellingborough East projects already planned, we wonder why developers don't simply participate in those.

Update, mid-2014: the bungalow pictured above has since been renovated and put back into use by a housing association. The house in the middle picture is under new ownership and is being renovated. The end-terrace house in the third picture is awaiting conversion into two flats, planning permission having been granted.

CONGESTION

The second Barwood proposal included two car spaces for each of the 149 dwellings. It seemed probable that they would not only have been used to the full, but would have been found insufficient in some cases. Add visitors’ cars and trade vehicles, and any development on such a scale is likely to put another three hundred or more vehicles into Irchester’s narrow streets, exacerbating congestion at the choke points which already exist. The extra noise and vibration may have adverse effects on older structures in the High Street.

There are only two routes which those extra vehicles can use: either they head north to join the busy, fast moving traffic on the A45 via its short, dangerous sliproad, or they head south to the congested High Street and its busy junction with Station Road.

DRAINAGE

After rain, there is standing water on the High Street, which will be a source of refreshing showers for pedestrians walking from the new development to the village centre.

That deep pool of water in the A45 slip road can come as a most unwelcome surprise to motorists braking from 70mph to make the turn into Irchester.

SEWERAGE

The village continues to suffer from problems with the sewage system.

From time to time, a long line of tankers will be seen pumping out sewage on Station Road. Sewage sometimes emerges spontaneously on the low-lying land towards the railway. Despite Anglian ("Love Every Drop") Water's assurances to the contrary, it is evident that the system is unable to cope with present sewage volumes. The impact of another 149 dwellings-full of straining bottoms scarcely bears thinking about.

The pictures here may look relatively innocuous but they do not include the unpleasant, pervasive smells which many residents frequently have to endure.

OTHER SERVICES

If the sewers are inadequate, one is bound to wonder whether the water, electricity and gas supplies would be able to support the extra load which 149 houses would present.

The school is already at full capacity. The premises and equipment are unlikely to be able to cope with a further large influx of pupils. Moreover, any such influx will inevitably have a disruptive impact upon the ethos and culture of the school.

The village medical centre does not have the capacity to support a large influx of new patients.

WILDLIFE

The open field to the west of Chester Road adjoins Irchester Country Park. Skylarks and partridges nest in the field. Foxes, badgers and muntjack deer are often seen. This is agricultural land and it would be a great loss to the village if it were to be urbanised.

CONNECTIONS

Public transport does not serve Chester Road at all, so the new development will be for car owners only.

The walking route to the centre of the village, where the village’s few amenities are located is difficult for all but the fit and unencumbered. The footpaths are narrow and at some points so narrow that mobility scooters and even pushchairs would be compelled to take their chances in the busy roadway. The distance is too great for the infirm to walk. Parking opportunities within the village centre are few.

There are rights of way through the fields and along their sides. It is presently possible to walk across the fields to the Country Park, and on through to Wellingborough. Even though these rights of way might be preserved, no-one wants to walk through a housing estate instead of open country.

The first Barwood proposal implied a walking route above the southern rim of the Country Park, from Gipsy Lane to an enlarged recreation ground. Although this now seems unlikely, it should be remembered that the ground in that area is unsafe, being prone to slippages.

INDIFFERENCE

Save Irchester Village campaign poster

The Neighbourhood Plan is in progress and although Barwood met with the steering group they made it very clear that they did not support the plan and didn’t want to be part of it. They also refused to consult with the Parish Council and other organisations.

Their light consultation was totally inadequate, consisting merely of four posters around the village. This wasn't one of them.

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NEWS REPORTS

"Homes plan for Irchester thrown out by councillors"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 20th February 2014

"Plans for Irchester homes discussed"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 7th December 2013

"Irchester residents invited to comment on 150 homes scheme"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 29th November 2013

"Irchester homes appeal dismissed"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 5th June 2013

"Villages 'under pressure' over development"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 28th February 2013

"Homes decision in eight weeks"

Herald & Post, 21st February 2013

"MP and villagers speak against 124-home plan"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 21st February 2013

"Village Campaigners prepare for appeal"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 8th February 2013

"Villagers battle to stop development"

Herald & Post, 7th February 3013

"Irchester homes inquiry"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 1st February 2013

"Protesters face new battle in homes row"

Herald & Post, 8th September 2012

"Group ready for action in homes battle"

Herald & Post, 16th August 2012

"Village homes bid refused"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 14th August 2012

"Village petition handed in to council"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 28th June 2012

"Homes campaigners take protest to Mayor"

Herald & Post, 27th June 2012

"Residents rally to stop homes build"

Herald & Post, 13th June 2012

"Campaigners hand over petition against village homes"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 1st June 2012

"Opposition growing to homes plan"

Herald & Post, 9th May 2012

"Villagers gang up to fight homes scheme"

Herald & Post, 3rd May 2012

"Campaigners fight against new homes"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 30th April 2012

"Hundreds turn out for homes meeting"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 3rd February 2012

"Protesters to hold countryside event"

Herald & Post, 29th July 2010

"Villagers' housing battle continues"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 5th May 2010

"Protest march against Wellingborough homes"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 3rd April 2010

"Residents protest over homes plans"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 17th March 2010

"Villagers opposing 100 new houses"

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 12th March 2010

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