Leighton Buzzard residents argue town ‘won’t cope’ with 92 new homes while wildlife habitats would be lost

Leighton Buzzard residents are hitting back at a controversial planning application which they claim will harm local wildlife and damage the town's "already strained" roads and NHS service.

By Jo Robinson
Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:14 pm
Updated Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:16 pm

Pledge Office Chairs Ltd has submitted an outline plan for 92 homes at its existing site at Millsteam Works, Mill Road, as the business is looking to relocate to a new manufacturing facility near Leighton Buzzard which it says will secure jobs for current staff and allow it to create new jobs.

However, it's claimed that the new-builds (a mix of houses, bungalows and apartments) would do more harm than good.

Speaking on behalf of nearby community members, one Princes Court resident claimed: "The proposed development could result in additional 239 NHS patients, with no capacity at local GP surgeries, especially Bassett Road surgery where wait times can already exceed one month.

A badger in the Princes Court residents' garden, and right, Bassett Road restrictions: "Current access to the area is via narrow roads such as Basset Road, Queen Street and Mill Road."

"Meanwhile, the increase in vehicle numbers derived from these extra dwellings will lead to a significant increase in traffic at peak times in surrounding narrow access routes that are already at capacity.

"Safety to elderly, young children and cyclists is a key concern in addition to the increased likelihood of RTAs."

Residents are also worried about the future of wildlife, especially for badgers, bats and birds.

The woman added: "All residents are aware of the significant presence of badgers. But in a predominately residential area where will they relocate to? Am I really to believe they will survive?

The resident's photo of flooding near the site.

"Whilst referred to as ‘waste land’ in previous proposals, there exists a thriving nature reserve including protected species but also deer, foxes, squirrels, bees, and a wide selection of birds.

"Thorough surveys have not been shared."

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Additionally, residents are worried that the new homes will only enhance flooding issues, fearing proposed ponds and SuDS won't counter the risk. They are also worried that local drains won't cope.

A Pledge Office Chairs spokesman said: "To date, Pledge has only submitted an outline planning application about the principles of the development which Central Bedfordshire Council [CBC] will now review.

"If the outline planning application is successful, a detailed application will then follow, and all interested parties can participate in both the consultation and the planning process at that time.

"Since 2019, the company has held numerous discussions with CBC and other interested parties. In this spirit of openness, Pledge decided to inform local residents that it was going to start progressing plans, and so began a consultation in March 2022. Pledge also consulted on an original planning application in 2021 and, following that feedback, has now developed the new proposals. As a result, the number of homes has been reduced from the original 146 to 92, while the landscaping measures have been increased."

However, the woman added: "Many of us understand Pledge’s desire to move to a new site, but I am sure alternative proposals could be made which do not impact the local area like the recent planning submission would.

"The [Pledge Office Chair's] PR consultation alongside CBC's consultation may be confusing to some residents and may result in loss of formal responses to CBC."

A CBC spokesman said: “We have recently received this planning application and it is currently being considered by officers.”

The consultation ends on May 31. See CBC’s website to comment (ref CB/22/01377/OUT).