Campaigners plan protests over housing plan for Central Bedfordshire

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Campaigning groups fighting plans for massive house building plans by Central Bedfordshire Council are preparing to protest at a council meeting next Thursday.

Councillors at CBC’s full council meeting will be considering authorisation to submit the council’s Local Plan to the Secretary of State.

It calls for more than 20,000 new homes and the creating of up to 24,000 new jobs in the borough in the next 20 years.

But campaigning groups across the borough have been fighting the plans since they were first published last year.

Groups from Sutton, Potton, Tempsford, Cranfield, Lidlington, Barton and Clifton have been meeting to discuss the proposals.

They say many of the proposed developments, such as 1,500 new homes east of Biggleswade and 2,000 new homes east of Arlesey, along with around 5,000 new homes in Marston Vale, are too big and will have a masive imapct on the areas.

A spokesman for CBC said the Local Plan outlines the strategy for ensuring that the growth needed is delivered in the right places and is of the right character and quality. It also ensures that this growth is delivered alongside supporting roads, schools and services such as health, as well as retail, leisure and community facilities.

The council is aiming to submit their plan to the Secretary of State on 30 April 20, ahead of changes to national planning policy that could mean government intervention and potentially more new homes than the 20,000 the council have planned for the area.

Having an up-to-date Local Plan in place will mean that the council retains control over where development should be located, rather than it being delivered in an ad hoc way as a result of speculative development, sometimes without sufficient benefit to the local communities.

More than 6275 comments were submitted during the pre-submission Local Plan consultation, which was held this year during January and February. All of these comments have been collated and analysed.

In response to this feedback, the report to Full Council recommends minor modifications to the Local Plan. If approved by councillors, these recommendations will be sent to an independent Planning Inspector to review ahead of a public examination hearing.

Councillor Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Central Bedfordshire needs growth. This Local Plan is the strategy that will underpin how we achieve the infrastructure, homes and jobs that our residents require. And, crucially, an up-to-date Local Plan will mean we can avoid government intervention that could mean many more homes imposed on us than we are planning for, and also protect us against speculative development.

“It has been an extensive but worthwhile process to get to this point. Importantly, we’ve been able to develop the Local Plan with residents’ input. We’ve listened to the feedback from our pre-submission consultation earlier in the year. We will be recommending a number of minor changes to the Planning Inspector. These will now go before all Council members for a decision.”

But Independent Cllr Adam zerny said: “This Local Plan has been criticised not just by Network Rail, Anglian Water, Natural England and other local authorities but also by thousands of local residents. It is reassuring CBC finally accepts the plan was rushed and now requires huge numbers of amendments but it is frustrating the Council still doesn’t recognise many of the plots of land proposed for development are totally inappropriate. Clearly it will be left to the Independent Inspector to throw these out”