Central Beds Council concedes defeat in battle over local plan

Central Beds Council
Central Beds Council

A protracted legal battle over Central Beds Council’s local plan has been dropped, after the authority decided to scrap its hotly debated development blueprint.

In February CBC was told by planning inspector Brian Cook that its plan was not fit for purpose and advised the authority to withdraw it rather than have it rejected.

Mr Cook claimed that CBC’s co-operation with Luton Borough Council over development strategy “fell short of the required level”.

CBC fought back and took the case to the High Court, where in March permission for a judicial review to Mr Cook’s decision was rejected.

The council kept up the fight and earlier this month was granted permission to appeal against this, but on Thursday night council members admitted defeat.

CBC has now withdrawn its development strategy and will start a drafting new local plan.

The council’s cxecutive member for regeneration, Nigel Young, said: “This is not a decision which has been taken lightly but it is necessary, in light of new planning policy changes, for us to reset this process.

“However, that does not mean that we are starting from scratch, but have already begun to work sympathetically with the new national guidance, while listening to the views of local people and neighbouring authorities, many of whom find themselves in a similar situation.”

He added: “Of course, our focus now is on finalising a new, sustainable local plan that best serves our communities, manages growth and continues the significant progress that is ensuring Central Bedfordshire is a great place to live and work.”

CBC’s rift with LBC centred around plans for 5,150 homes in Houghton Regis, which were given outline planning consent in September 2014.

LBC claimed its neighbour failed to cooperate over the development, though this argument was deemed to be “wholly unarguable” and “lacking in legal merit” by a High Court judge.

The row set Luton taxpayers back £109,992 in legal fees, while CBC was also forced to foot a bill of £48,666.