Communities secretary Sajid Javid talks housing with Central Beds MPs and council leader, as advisory report moots Sandy expansion

PUBLISHED: 09:54 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 22 November 2017

 Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.in Wisbech today to support the Conservative candidate Councillor James Palmer in the May election for an elected mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The minister used the occasion to promote the Government's devolution agenda. PHOTO: Ian Carter

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.in Wisbech today to support the Conservative candidate Councillor James Palmer in the May election for an elected mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The minister used the occasion to promote the Government's devolution agenda. PHOTO: Ian Carter

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Central Beds MPs and the council leader have met communities secretary Sajid Javid to discuss proposed government housing targets.

Councillor James Jamieson, leader of Central Bedfordshire Council. Picture: Central Bedfordshire CouncilCouncillor James Jamieson, leader of Central Bedfordshire Council. Picture: Central Bedfordshire Council

The meeting comes after Mr Javid’s department launched a consultation on ‘planning for the right homes in the right places’ – which the council says would see 60 per cent more homes planned for Central Beds.

Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries and South West Beds MP Andrew Selous joined council leader James Jamieson at the meeting with Mr Javid.

Mr Jamieson said afterwards: “The proposed housing numbers are unrealistic and undeliverable. If the government are serious about increasing house building, they need to do more to help councils hold developers to account to deliver this growth – otherwise it simply won’t happen.

“Equally as important to us is that growth is sustainable – that means homes are built alongside the services, jobs and road and rail infrastructure.

“Development should not be to the detriment of existing communities, and to ensure this we need investment in critical infrastructure up front.”

Adam Zerny, an independent councillor from Potton, told the Comet in response: “The government has clearly refused to reduce its figures.

“Central Beds Council is basing all its hopes on rushing through a Local Plan six months ahead of schedule, with the desperate hope that the government will look upon it favourably for doing so.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Govenrment said: “The simple truth is that for far too long we haven’t built enough homes and we don’t build them quickly enough – so it’s time to fix that.

“This new approach is about getting a better understanding of housing needs in local areas and using this as a basis to plan for affordable, high-quality homes for everyone.

“It will also cut the unnecessarily complex and lengthy debates that can delay house building. It’s not a local target, but will help make sure there’s a clear and realistic assessment of how many new homes are needed.”

Separately, the National Infrastructure Commission has published a new paper mooting a surge of expansion around Sandy as a potential development option.

The advisory report, called ‘Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambrige-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc’, identifies the Sandy area as one of six “key opportunities for growth over the next 30 years” – with building along the A1 corridor “potentially supporting the development of a large town”.

The report’s authors note this would exploit the new East West Rail link, adding: “Delivering major growth may require other changes such as the realignment of the A1, and potentially relocating the existing East Coast Main Line station.”

A hypothetical out-of-town Sandy stop “replacing the existing station” was described in a report commissioned by Central Beds Council earlier this year, but the council denied wanting the station to close.

The final route for the Cambridge-to-Oxford East West Rail link is yet to be decided.

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