Central Bedfordshire Council has approved the final draft of a plan which will shape housing and employment across the area for the next 20 years.

At a meeting last night, the full council agreed the current draft of the Local Plan which will include 20,000 homes and 24,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

The plan will now go out for public consultation.

Proposals to build a settlement of 7,000 new homes at Tempsford have been dropped from the plan and plans for a new 2,000-home village east of Arlesey, settlements east of Biggleswade, at Holme Farm Biggleswade and RAF Henlow are still being considered, as well as a series of smaller housing developments

The Arlesey settlement would contain a country park, a health and social care hub, community centres, new shops, a nursery, lower school and middle school provision and enlargement of upper school and sixth form provision.

There is an allocation for 1,500 homes east of Biggleswade’s Baden Powell Way. This will be a separate settlement from Biggleswade with a similar set of community facilities to the new Arlesey development.

There will be a parkland area to the west of it to help preserve the Bigglewade Green Wheel.

The site at Holme Farm will contain 60 hectares of employment space.

The base at RAF Henlow has been earmarked for 85 hectares of high tech employment use, and 45 hectares allocated for homes and a visitor attraction.

Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “This is now the Local Plan that we will take forward, which will guide the development of fewer homes than originally proposed, though we do recognise that up to 20,000 homes over the next 20 years is still significant.

“However, by consulting residents now and submitting our plan before the end of March, we will retain control over where development will be located and how it is delivered rather than succumbing to the pitfalls of speculative development.

“Not all the homes will be built in one go, so the growth will be gradual. And it will be delivered with the supporting roads, transport networks, schools, shops, more parks and open spaces, community, leisure and health facilities that, during our previous consultations and engagement events, thousands of people told us were needed.

“We have listened to that feedback and now have a Local Plan that will deliver the homes and jobs our residents need, where they are needed, while creating communities where people want to live.”

The plan is now open for a further consultation until February 22 so you can comment on any aspect of it. Details of how to do this are available at www.centralbeds.gov.uk.

Comments from the consultation will be taken into account and changes made to the plan before it goes before a government planning inspector for a full inquiry.

Drop-in sessions will be held on Tuesday, January 30, at Arlesey Village Hall and Thursday, February 8, at Biggleswade Orchard Centre from 3pm to 7.30pm when you can find out more about the authority’s Local Plan.