The future of the High Street/Jacksons Lane site in Wellingborough town centre has been considered by councillors at a lengthy additional meeting of the Resources Committee.
Following a competitive procurement process in 2011, the Council had approved Keepmoat as the preferred developer for the site and since then has been in dialogue with them about its future.
A report to the meeting presented the timeline of events since the procurement exercise and councillors were being asked to consider the town’s requirements for the site to be appropriately developed.
Keepmoat had made several changes to the original proposals and had sought pre-application advice on the latest as follows:
• 121 dwellings providing a range of 1-4 bedroom accommodation; an increase from 114
• A mix of houses and apartments providing 1-4 bed accommodation; a slight increase in the proportion of houses and smaller house types to encourage first time buyers
• A mix of tenures providing 30% affordable housing; an increase from the 20% approved originally.
• Predominantly 2 storey development with up to 2.5 storey houses and 3 storey apartments to add interest; maintaining similar characteristics to the approved scheme
Councillors heard from several speakers, including a ward member and local residents, and debated the matter for almost three hours, of which one hour was held in private session for commercial confidentiality reasons.
After robust discussion and questions to officers, the committee is recommending the council agree to sell High Street/Jackson’s Lane site to Keepmoat Homes.
Seven committee members voted for and five voted against the proposals. The move will be considered by a meeting of the Full Council on 8 December.
Leader of the Council, and Chairman of the Resources Committee, Councillor Martin Griffiths, said: “This will be a major decision for the Council at its meeting in December and also be taken prior to the Borough Council of Wellingborough becoming part of the new North Northants Council on 1 April 2021.
“After 14 years and lots of failed potential uses, the latest plans include a purpose-built car park. Although it is planned to redevelop the existing site, the council will be replacing this with a brand-new surface car park for approximately 200 cars. There will still be in excess of 2000 car parking spaces in the town centre.
“Members have already agreed to the sale of the Drill Hall and 8a High Street and these sales were completed in August this year.
“We have to meet the demands and needs of the changing face of high streets up and down the country. Above all of that, additional housing in our town centre will inevitably further benefit our businesses.
“High Streets throughout the country are all adapting to address modern shopping habits, and many are developing similar ‘brown field’ sites to improve footfall to help local businesses, shops and hospitality venues.
“We have other plans to improve the public realm spaces in Wellingborough to help make the town centre a place that people will want to visit.”