Prevent the loss of substantial public car parking on Jacksons Lane, Wellingborough.

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Whilst we the undersigned recognise there is a case for redevelopment of the Jacksons Lane site, the current proposed reduction in car parking spaces on the site by over 50% is not practical. We strongly urge the Borough Council of Wellingborough to substantially increase the proposed offer of two hundred spaces on a single location on the North side of town centre. 

At a hastily arranged virtual Resource Committee meeting on 16th November 2020, Wellingborough Council narrowly voted to recommend the sale of the land currently known as Jacksons Lane Car Park for housing development.

This car park is a highly valued and utilised resource by the people of Wellingborough and surrounding areas, particularly the businesses and organisations who are based in this part of the town.

This highly contentious proposal was originally put forward in 2014 and was the subject of a petition signed by over 4,000 people, along with a public meeting held on the 31st May 2018 attended by over 200 people. At the meeting, Mr Martin Griffiths, Leader of the Council, promised any decision to sell the land would be made at a full council meeting after further public consultation. 

The recommendation to sell the land was made on a slightly modified proposal from the developers and the proviso that the council will buy back part of the site to provide car parking for approximately130 vehicles.

While it is acknowledged the proposed 130 parking spaces on this site is a step in the right direction, it is still a significant decrease from the 400 plus spaces currently available and insufficient to meet the needs of the people of Wellingborough.

It is noted that an additional 60 spaces have been proposed at other sites in the area. However, there are serious concerns over the accessibility to these sites for both vehicles and pedestrians and therefore should not be considered suitable for public parking.

Although this process is following in part the action promised by Mr Griffiths, why has it taken two and half years to bring it back for approval? Especially at a time when we are in the middle of a major health crisis, where people’s concerns are concentrated on their own and their family’s welfare and livelihood. Where people’s ability to lawfully congregate and lobby are limited.

It should also be noted that there has been no attempt by the Borough Council to consult with the public over this matter as promised by the Leader of the Council. When questioned about this the Leader of the Council stated that it had not been possible to consult due to COVID-19. 

Under the Governments amended advice on ‘Consultation and pre-decision matters’ during the pandemic, it maintains that Local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation, prior to deciding a planning application. And that consultation, transparency and community engagement are key to effective decision-making in local planning authorities.

It is not inconceivable that formal consultation could have taken place, especially as the tools to carry out virtual meetings and electronic consultation are already in place.

The move to rush this decision through clearly appears to be a tactic designed to limit the opposition to the sale and should therefore be put on hold until such time allows for a fair and open debate.