Boost to Woburn’s viability?

Public viewing of new housing development at Woburn Village Hall, Crawley Road.
Public viewing of new housing development at Woburn Village Hall, Crawley Road.

Villagers sitting on opposite sides of the fence over plans to build social housing on green belt land in Woburn gave their verdict at an exhibition on Tuesday.

The Woburn Registered Provider is preparing to submit a planning application for affordable housing, with a mix of 16 two and three-bed houses on a field in Timber Lane.

On Tuesday evening, villagers were invited to Woburn Village Hall to meet the developers, see details of the site and fill in a questionnaire.

The planning application is expected to be submitted to Central Beds Council in the summer and will include ‘a series of technical and environmental assessments’, and shape the design concept of the site including topics such as green belt, traffic, ecology landscape and drainage.

Speaking at the exhibition, which was attended by 150 people, Woburn representative Councillor Budge Wells, said: “I live in Woburn and deem this to be a very good idea to attract people who need to work and/or live here, but they’ve got to pitch their rent right so that people can afford to live here.

“The council will look at this as a Rural Exception Site (RES) so it will be very heavily planned by us because otherwise, if it doesn’t confrom then what is the point in them putting an application in, they wouldn’t get it.

“What RES stops is developers coming into a lovely place like Woburn and banging up half a dozen big houses and coming out with a big profit.

“This is for the benefit of potential tennants and clearly the Woburn Estate will own the land and in time the properties will revert to them anyway.

“The viability of Woburn at the moment is touch and go. We have lost one shop and an art gallery because either the rents are too high or people aren’t coming into Woburn to use the facilities.

“I’m told that Woburn can’t attract firemen because they can’t afford to live here. Now if there was affordability in Woburn, that is a classic example of someone who might want to work in the village but can’t because everything else is so expensive, but there they get subsidised rent. It demonstrates what this development is about.”

> For the full report see next week’s LBO.