Hundreds support battle to stop development of Linslade green belt site

Cllr Clive Palmer at Central Beds Council offices with the petition
Cllr Clive Palmer at Central Beds Council offices with the petition

Hundreds of residents have demonstrated the strength of feeling against plans to designate a Green Belt site in Linslade for possible housing development.

Land north of Soulbury Road has been included in the pre-submission of Central Beds Council’s Local Plan, which is looking to deliver up to 20,000 new homes and 24,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

But the move to potentially build 55 homes on the 1.73 hectare site has come in for fierce criticism and a petition with 429 signatories was presented to Central Beds Council today (Monday) asking that the council remove the land from the list of areas allocated for future development.

Cllr Clive Palmer, town councillor for Southcott Ward, delivered the petition by hand and told the LBO the numbers of signatures demonstrated the overwhelming opposition to developing the site.

A separate letter sent to CBC signed by Cllr Palmer and fellow Southcott Ward town councillors, Alan Brandham, Karen Cursons and Gordon Perham states their “strong disappointment” at the inclusion of the land in the development plan.

They write: “We believe this is a totally inappropriate site for development and this is strongly supported by local public opinion. Consequently, we would ask that Central Bedfordshire now do what is necessary to promote the removal of this site from those allocated for development.

“A previous application to build on this site was comprehensively refused in 2013 and an appeal by the applicant not pursued. The reasons for refusal in the case papers included that the site was in the Green Belt and there were no special circumstances which would outweigh the potential harm to the Green Belt that would result; that development there would fail to safeguard the countryside from encroachment; and that the proposal was for development outside the natural limit of the urban area and would be harmful to an Area of Great Landscape Value. The very same factors are just as relevant today.”

They added: “The area is part of the Green Belt and will shortly, we hope, be linked to the new Green Belt being proposed by Aylesbury Vale in their Local Plan process. It is strange that technical assessments during the Local Plan process found that the land north of Soulbury Road made a sufficient contribution to the purposes of the Green Belt that it should actually be excluded from further consideration for development. We believe that it does have an important function in safeguarding the countryside from urban encroachment and acts to check urban sprawl. It is an open area, adjacent to Linslade Wood which is, in our view, more a part of the wider countryside than the urban area.

“We are also concerned about the potential impact of any development of this site on Linslade Wood which is a major natural asset for the community, containing an area of Ancient Woodland and an important wildlife site with many species of birds and bats.

“The loss of tranquillity and noise and light pollution which would result from the development of the immediately adjacent land along a lengthy border, could only harm the biodiversity of the Wood and the enjoyment of it by the public.”

The quartet cite road and pedestrian safety grounds, and the additional impact upon congestion of more vehicles using Soulbury Road and the Canal Bridge to access the town.

They say: “The Town Council has equally made clear its opposition to development on this site in the past for sound planning reasons. Leighton-Linslade is taking its fair share of new housing development (some would hold far more!) against a difficult infrastructure background. Additional development in inappropriate locations, such as this has been shown to be in the past, is to be avoided when it would give little benefit but cause significant problems.

“We therefore hope that Central Bedfordshire and the Inspector when the Plan is examined, will agree that this site should be removed from those proposed for development.”