Liberal Democrat plans to turn Leighton Buzzard into a garden city have been dismissed by local politicians.
On Monday Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg announced that under his party a number of towns would be eyed for wide expansion, with Leighton Buzzard among those in consideration to become a garden city.
Aylesbury, Ampthill, Sandy, St Neots, Bicester and Great Cambourne are also included in the plans for 50,000 new homes, while Mr Clegg added his intention to re-open the Oxford to Cambridge train line to service the new cities.
Garden cities are designed to be self sufficient communities surrounded by green belt land.
The Lib Dem leader told party members in Glasgow: “Garden cities are a vital cornerstone of our plan to boost house building to 300,000 homes a year – enough to meet demand and keep prices in reach – while still protecting our precious green space and preventing urban sprawl.
“Our plan is to build a series of high-quality new towns and cities where people want to live, with green space, sustainable transport and spacious homes.”
He added: “If Liberal Democrats are part of the next government, we will ensure at least ten (garden cities) get under way – with up to five along this new Garden Cities Railway, bringing new homes and jobs to the brain-belt of South East England.”
Liberal Democrats have stressed that the garden cities would be ‘locally led’, meaning that the extra housing would not be imposed upon Leighton Buzzard.
A spokesman added: “We will encourage the towns to come forward with plans for this scale of development with clear benefits for existing residents.”
The announcement comes two-and-a-half months after outcry over Central Beds Council’s decision to agree plans for two large scale housing developments in the town– one for 950 homes on Chamberlains Barn Quarry, Heath Road, and another for 270 homes on land known as the The Stearn, Clipstone Lane.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous has cast doubt on the proposals.
He said: “The current plans we have for expanding Leighton Buzzard are more than enough to be getting on with, I would not be at all happy with significant expansion.”
For more on this story see the October 7 issue of the LBO.
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