Northampton Central Area Action Plan 2013

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 In 2002, the Government selected Northampton as an area which offered great opportunity for further growth. The area’s role as a growth area was further amplified within the East Midlands Regional Plan[1] , March 2009. However, in the Localism Act 2012, the Government has signalled its intention to revoke this Plan. Changes to housing delivery and economic growth rates as a result of the recession mean it is likely that the planned growth of Northampton will not be as large in the period to 2026, as set out in the East Midlands Regional Plan. However, Northampton and its surrounding areas will still grow substantially to meet the housing, employment and service needs of the existing population and its surrounding areas. Northampton’s Central Area must change so that it functions effectively within this context of growth. The Central Area Action Plan (CAAP) will provide the basis for positively addressing the impact of growth in a planned and sustainable manner.

1. Government Office for the East Midlands, East Midlands Regional Plan (March, 2009) [back]

1.2 Planning authorities must determine planning applications in accordance with the statutory Development Plan,
unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Government has recently changed the terminology it uses in relation to Development Plans. The CAAP is a local plan that forms part of the Development Plan. Policies within the CAAP replace some of the ‘saved’ policies in the adopted Northampton Local Plan[2] . Other local plans will be produced such as the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy that will form part of the Development Plan. These local plans should also be considered in association with policies in the CAAP.

2. Northampton Borough Council, Northampton Adopted Local Plan (1997) [back]

1.3 The CAAP provides an exciting opportunity to deliver a bold vision for a centre that meets the needs of communities in the Northampton area and beyond. Northampton has a clear role as the principal urban area in Northamptonshire, but also a regional centre for economic growth, commerce, retail and leisure. The Action
Plan will safeguard existing retail and employment in and around the town centre. Northampton’s town centre lies at the heart of this vision. In particular, the redevelopment of major sites presents an opportunity for developing and improving the provision for employment, retail and other town centre uses.

1.4 The overall aim of the Action Plan is to provide a consistent strategic framework for the improvement and extension of the town centre whilst seeking to protect and enhance its intrinsic historic built character and green
spaces.

1.5 This CAAP forms one element of the Development Plan. It has the status of a local plan and has been produced
in accordance with the Statement of Community Involvement (2006)[3] and the relevant Town and Country Planning Regulations. As well as having regard to national policy, it takes into account other plans and strategies that are still current and/or up-to-date including the Northampton Sustainable Community Strategy 2008-2011[4]  and the Submission West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy[5] . The CAAP sets out the policies and proposals for action to enhance and preserve Northampton’s Central Area.

3. Northampton Borough Council, Statement of Community Involvement (2006) [back]
4. Northampton Borough Council, Northampton Sustainable Community Strategy 2008-2011 (2008) [back]
5. West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy Local Plan Submission (January, 2013) [back]

1.6 The CAAP is being prepared within the broad context of the vision for Northampton and its centre as set out in the Northampton Sustainable Community Strategy 2008-2011. The West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State in January 2013.

1.7 It also takes account of, and where necessary provides, a locally specific spatial interpretation of national planning policy. The CAAP does not seek to reproduce the policies that are within other local plans that cover the Central Area. For example, strategic policy within the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy will cover such issues as; sustainability, infrastructure and Planning Obligations. The CAAP provides more locally specific interpretation of those policies. The CAAP should be read and interpreted within this context and in association with those other national and locally relevant policies.

1.8 Figure 1.1 Relationship of the Central Area Action Plan to Other Plans and Strategies shows the linkages between the CAAP and other plans.

Figure 1.1 Relationship of the Central Area Action Plan to Other Plans and Strategies

Fig 1.1 Relationship of CAAP to other Plans

1.9 All the policies contained within the CAAP will be monitored and reported annually, through the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR), see Chapter 7 for further details on monitoring arrangements.

1.10 The Central Area boundary is shown in Figure 1.2 ‘Central Area Action Plan Boundary’. It has been drawn to include those parts referred to in the National Planning Policy Framework such as the primary shopping area and areas occupied by main town centre uses within or adjacent to the primary shopping area. It also includes adjacent areas where the regeneration of housing, mixed use development and open spaces will all contribute to achieving the vision for Northampton’s Central Area. To the west is the predominantly residential area of Spring Boroughs, Castle Station and associated sidings, and the out-of-centre St James and Nene Valley retail parks. To the south, the boundary follows the line of the old Northampton to Bedford railway line, together with the areas of Ransome Road, the River Nene, and the Grand Union Canal. Midsummer Meadow and Barnes Meadow Local Nature Reserve are situated in the south east corner. To the east is Northampton General Hospital along with some large scale commercial premises and Becket’s Park. The north boundary is mainly defined by the areas to the adjacent inner ring road.

Figure 1.2 Central Area Action Plan Boundary

CAAP-Boundary-Web2

 CAAP Plan Boundary : Interactive Mapping

 Policies applied to the whole of the plan area

 Policy 2, Policy 9, Policy 14, Policy 16 Policy 36  

1.11 The preparation of the Northampton Central Area Action Plan has been informed by consultation. The policies and proposals contained in this Plan have been developed following extensive consultation and discussion with key partners, including the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership and Northampton Borough Councillors.

1.12 It has been widely publicised and extensively discussed with the local community and stakeholders. This engagement has been consistent with the requirements in The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England)
Regulations 2012 necessary for its adoption.

1.13 The Council undertook four main stages of the plan preparation process. The first stage, involving consultation on Issues and Options[6] , was undertaken in September 2007, with subsequent consultation on an Emerging Strategy[7] in August 2009. A Pre-Submission Draft[8] was issued for representations in November 2010, with subsequent Focused Changes[9] issued for representations in November 2011. The outcome of these consultation exercises has helped shape the contents of the CAAP submitted to the Secretary of State for examination in May 2012. The Submission CAAP was subject to independent examination with the Planning Inspector undertaking hearings in September 2012. Further Main Modifications[10] were issued for representations in September 2012.

1.14 In November 2012 the Planning Inspector issued his Final Report and found the Northampton Central Area Action Plan “sound” subject to inclusion of the main modifications.

6. Northampton Borough Council, Central Area Action Plan: Issues and Options (2007) [back]
7. Northampton Borough Council, Central Area Action Plan: Emerging Strategy (2009) [back]
8. Northampton Borough Council, Central Area Action Plan: Pre Submission draft (2010) [back]
9. Northampton Borough Council, Central Area Action Plan: Focused Changes (2011) [back]
10. Northampton Borough Council, Central Area Action Plan: Main and Minor Modifications (2012) [back]

1.15 In order to demonstrate the soundness of the Plan, the policies and proposals within the Plan were founded on a robust evidence base. The Council and its partners commissioned technical studies carried out by independent consultants.

1.16 These were supplemented by local knowledge and available data on the main issues affecting the Central Area and information gathered during the consultation stages as part of the plan preparation process.

1.17 All local plans produced by local planning authorities must be accompanied by a Sustainability Appraisal (SA). The Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating a Strategic Environmental Assessment) has been fully integrated into the CAAP adoption process at each stage. A final SA accompanies the CAAP.

1.18 The CAAP is in general conformity with the National Planning Policy Framework, The East Midlands Plan and it accords with the Council’s and other partners’ corporate priorities. The Vision and Objectives set out in Chapter 3 ‘Policy Context, Northampton Central Area Vision and Objectives’ of this document reflect the aspiration and broad objectives of the Sustainable Community Strategy and the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy.