Central Bedfordshire Local Plan to go before key vote
It’s judgement day for the future of Central Bedfordshire next Thursday, as the district’s Local Plan goes before a vote on whether to submit it to central government.
The Local Plan sets out how Central Beds will develop over the next 20 years – and if approved, will go to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and his department for consideration.
The plan includes proposals for a new 1,500-home village east of Biggleswade, as well as about 2,000 extra houses for Arlesey.
The council aims to submit the plan on Monday, April 30, so it gets in ahead of changes to national planning policy that the authority says could lead to government intervention and more new homes than its proposed 20,000.
Councillor Nigel Young, responsible for regeneration at the 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.”
If the plan is approved by councillors, the recommendations will go to an independent inspector for review ahead of a public examination hearing.
Councillors criticising the Conservative authority’s plan include Potton’s Adam Zerny, an independent, who said it had been heavily censured “not just by Network Rail, Anglian Water, Natural England and other local authorities, but also by thousands of Central Beds residents”.
He told the Comet: “While it is reassuring to see the council has finally accepted the plan was rushed and now requires hundreds of amendments, it is disappointing to see the council still doesn’t recognise many of the plots of land proposed for development are completely unsuitable. Clearly it will be down to the independent inspector to throw these out.”
The council said it had received more than 6,275 comments during the pre-submission Local Plan consultation during January and February.