‘Rose of the shires’ goes for growth

A county defined by periods of dramatic change, Northamptonshire, often referred to as the ‘rose of the shires’, has experienced industrialisation, decline and more recently the rise of the development industry.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has added uncertainty to the market but with a population nearing three quarters of a million and a total land area of nearly 1,000 square miles, Northamptonshire is geographically well-placed to benefit from growth and investment following a return to normal activity.

At its heart is the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Arch, an initiative of national significance and interest it is set, over the next ten years, to offer one million new homes, employment opportunity and an increasing investment in social and environmental infrastructure.

David Bainbridge, of Savills Oxford, said: “supported by the Government and local authorities in Oxford and Cambridge, the exact share of the investment is not yet clear but the pending change in government should help make the most of it.”

On 01 April 2021 the eight existing councils across the county will be replaced with two new councils covering the combined areas of West and North Northamptonshire.

“This will mean governance over schools, roads, parks and leisure areas will be controlled by the same authority, depending on where you live. Of course, new employers and investment in infrastructure do not confine themselves to council boundaries and further co-ordination is likely to be required.”

“Social-distancing and the impact of Covid-19 has postponed the local elections scheduled for this May, pushing them back to May 2021, this will undoubtedly slow progression. In the interim two shadow authorities will be set up comprised of existing councillors who will continue to conduct administrations prior to the elections.”

Growth is anticipated in both West and North Northamptonshire, with just over 77,000 new homes expected. The land-area for this number of houses, community facilities and green infrastructure could amount to 20 square miles, the crucial factor in this planning will be the strategic positioning of the new infrastructure across the county and will require collaborative partnerships between public and private organisations.

David added: “undoubtedly this scale of growth will bring benefits to the local economy and society, alongside its fair share of challenge, not least the imbalance of homes versus employment, traffic congestion, flooding, decline of the traditional high street and rural deprivation. Mindfully, the local government has set out a series of pillars to achieve sustainable development which is designed to balance growth against the area’s ability to thrive.”

It is inevitable that expansion of higher and further education and diversity and accessibility of employment will be required to encourage retention of younger people, countering the pull to larger urban areas such as London and Birmingham and, whilst friendly in nature, there remains competition from the neighbouring areas of Milton Keynes, Leicester and Peterborough.

David concluded: “the emerging new authorities are gearing up to explain future growth strategies and will look to engage with residents and businesses across Northamptonshire. This presents an opportunity to promote land for development whilst also identifying land for protection from development in what is often named a ‘call for sites’.”

At Savills we offer a wide range of specialist property services and have a long-held track-record of planning for development and development consultancy advice in Northamptonshire. Working together we can help shape a vision and strategy for growth that supports sustainable development, allowing the rose of the shires to continue to blossom.

Click here to go to Savills website: www.savills.co.uk