'Major U-turn' on up to 14,000 Biggleswade and Tempsford homes
PUBLISHED: 06:57 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:24 13 September 2018
Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny has accused Central Bedfordshire Council of “very quietly” dropping a major building pledge as an inspector looks over its Local Plan.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s plan, submitted to government inspector Mike Hayden in April, identified Tempsford and Biggleswade as locations for massive future growth – with up to 7,000 new homes at each site.
But government inspector Mike Hayden has now told the council the inclusion of these locations on a policies map “appears unjustified, and the weight that could be given to them in development management decisions unclear”.
In his questions, Mr Hayden goes on to tell the Conservative-controlled council: “I would be grateful for a clear explanation of the analysis underpinning and the justification for the selection of each site.”
Central Bedfordshire Council, in its written response, has acknowledged the inconsistency of including these sites on the policy maps despite their not being linked to any policy, and proposed that any future revision will remove them.
The council added: “The rationale for including these locations is to provide absolute transparency for residents and stakeholders of our intention to look further at these when planning for additional growth as part of the partial plan review.”
Central Beds Council has told the Comet it is normal procedure for a planning inspector to seek clarification on points at this stage, and has stressed that it is publishing all relevant correspondence on its website.
Mr Zerny, who had questioned the council’s inclusion of the Biggleswade and Tempsford housing sites, said the council was making a significant U-turn by removing them.
“I am not surprised to see the inspector making these points,” he said. “After all, this is exactly what we were saying at the time.”
He added: “It is strange how many councillors and indeed the public at large have not been made aware of these recent developments.
“Instead, they have been hidden away on Central Beds Council’s website.”
The inspector has also noted that Central Beds Council lacks a statement of common ground with Luton Borough Council.
After the inspector looks over the plan, an examination in public will be held. Dates for this are yet to be announced.