Fairfield neighbourhood plan overwhelmingly endorsed by referendum

Fairfield's neighbourhood plan has been overwhelmingly backed by referendum.

Fairfield's neighbourhood plan has been overwhelmingly backed by referendum. - Credit: Archant

The protection of Fairfield’s unique character has been overwhelmingly backed by referendum in what has been called a milestone in the village’s history.

Fairfield Parish Council’s neighbourhood plan was accepted on Thursday by 574 votes to 16, on a turnout of 31 per cent – slightly better than the norm for a local election – with 97.3 per cent of ballots supporting the plan.

The plan, covering the period 2016 to 2026, must be considered alongside the draft Local Plan submitted to the government by Central Beds Council.

Parish council vice-chairman Councillor Barrie Dack said the neighbourhood plan reinforced the master plan under which Fairfield Park and Middlemarch were built following agreement between developers and the now defunct Mid Bedfordshire District Council in 2000.

Central Bedfordshire Council – which superseded the Mid Beds authority in 2009 – has thus far taken the master plan into account, but Mr Dack said it had since made clear that this would not always be the case.

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He said: “This is very important to Fairfield, as so many villages have been aesthetically damaged by infilling and house extensions that have no regard to their surroundings.

“The neighbourhood plan reinforces that master plan and its design principles, that apply not just to new builds and extensions but to street furniture, lighting and fencing.

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“All was modelled on the Grade-II listed building that was the two asylums, but is now Fairfield Hall. In other words, the unique feel of Fairfield is now guaranteed for a further 10 years.

“This was a very important milestone in the history of the village.”

Fairfield is the first town or parish in Central Bedfordshire to reach the referendum stage – with Arlesey, Henlow and Lower Stondon among the areas set to follow.

Its neighbourhood plan among other things calls for the distinctive “look and feel” of Fairfield to be retained through its design principles relating to new-build houses, extensions and more.

It also requests the formal designation of 13 green spaces around the village – including the west and east orchards, the old hospital cemetery and the cricket and bowls clubs.

Mr Dack said the parish council was seeking further safeguarding for the cricket and bowls grounds, and may seek ‘village green’ status for both.

A spokeswoman for Central Beds Council said there was a formal internal process that needed to be followed before it would sign off the adoption of the Fairfield neighbourhood plan.

The plan can be read in full at fairfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk/fairfield-neighbourhood-plan.

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