Members of the Town Council would urge the new Unitary Council to make every effort to explore all options for the site before any final decision is made. Phil Sawford
As Chair of the Town Council I have written to the Chief Executive of North Northamptonshire Council seeking further consultation regarding the future development of the Lawrence’s site. Local Councillors want to get get the best deal for Desborough and are working hard on this issue.
The content of my letter is reprinted below.
If you wish to comment on this issue please click on the button at the bottom of the page and let us have your thoughts.
Mr Rob Bridge
North Northamptonshire Council
Dear Mr Bridge
Re: Lawrence’s site, Desborough
I write to you on a matter that will have a significant long term- impact on the community of Desborough. I have no doubt that you are extremely busy and would not wish to take your time if this was not such an extremely important issue for the town.
At the meeting of Desborough Town Council held on the 20th of May 2021 the council received a presentation from Ms Hunt, the North Northamptonshire Council’s Development Manager (Kettering Area) and Mr Conway the North Northamptonshire Council’s Head of Housing.
Councillors were given details of the proposal to develop the above site to provide social housing and watched a slide presentation. Councillors were informed that the proposal had not yet been submitted for planning approval and that the presentation was part of a ‘meaningful local consultation’.
After the presentation it was clear, through the discussion that took place, that members of the Town Council were not convinced that social housing was the best use of the site and not what the town really needs. The minutes of the meeting record –
‘The Chair suggested that whilst it would be unfortunate to delay the investment in Desborough, the opportunity was being missed for a retail or mixed-use solution. In response to comments about the absence of meaningful public consultation the Head of Housing undertook to carry out further public consultation, at which other ideas could be put forward, subject to fixing dates and locations and being Covid-secure.
The site has stood derelict and abandoned for many years (see attached photographs) and the Town council is keen to see the area developed but we believe there are other options that would be better suited to the site that could deliver ‘A new era for Desborough’ which was promised on the site notice when work started many years ago.
Individual Councillors have been exploring the options and there are some indications that –
- The Central Co-op are willing to discuss their position in respect of the covenant.
- A major discount chain is interested in opening a branch in Desborough.
The Lawrence’s site is part of the central retail area of the town and if developed for retail uses could offer more choice, increase the footfall and possibly contribute to the long-term sustainability of other businesses in the town centre.
The Town Council fully recognises the need for social housing but feels that there are other sites that may be more suitable and would not wish to see the housing proposal pressed forward with undue haste and serious consequences.
Members of the Town Council would urge the new Unitary Council to make every effort to explore all options for the site before any final decision is made.
I understand that one of our Unitary Councillors is seeking to arrange a meeting with senior officers and members of Desborough Town Council to discuss this matter and I hope that this is possible in the near future.
In the meantime, I trust that you will note the concern of Councillors in Desborough who are keen to work with North Northants Council in the best interest of the town.
Chair – Desborough Town Council
We believe there are other options that would be better suited to the site that could deliver ‘A new era for Desborough’ which was promised on the site notice when work started many years ago. Phil Sawford