Call-in system for Bedfordshire village development 'abused'

Central Bedfordshire Council's planning committee has rejected a housing development in Shillington

Central Bedfordshire Council's planning committee has rejected a housing development in Shillington - Credit: Archant

A local authority’s call-in system over a planning application was abused by a Central Bedfordshire councillor acting for an opposition colleague, a meeting heard.

Conservative Ampthill councillor Paul Duckett called in the plans for up to 72 houses on land next to 70 Hanscombe End Road in Shillington, which he supported.

But Independent ward councillor for Silsoe and Shillington Alison Graham revealed she expected Limited’s project to be refused.

In a statement to CBCs development management committee, councillor Duckett referred to the scheme as “one of the most innovative planning applications to come before the local authority”.

He described it as “truly carbon neutral” and “unique in Central Bedfordshire”.

Councillor Graham explained that councillor Duckett called in the application on her behalf as she was in hospital.

Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker said: “The call-in system has been abused here. Your stance is clear, you object.

“To find councillor Duckett agrees with the plans is quite remarkable. I’m shocked to see this happen.

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“It’s a great application. But how long do we keep eroding our landscape until there’s none left and it’s one big amalgamated space?”

Val Colby for the applicant referred to the development as “a groundbreaking carbon neutral scheme”, with “a clear weight of positive benefits”, suggesting: “This will open up new views of the church from Hanscombe End Road.

“It will put the church at the heart of the community, no longer a look out post, but something which should be cherished and admired by the community.”

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey warned: “The view from the church is extraordinary. You look out over the Barton Hills. It’s one of the most amazing landscapes I’ve seen.

“We’ve few gems such as this in Bedfordshire. That view is a unique bit of history and what makes this county. It’s a very good development, but in completely the wrong place.”

Conservative councillor Caroline Maudlin, who chairs the committee, said: “This really isn’t the place to be sacrificing a unique part of the Central Bedfordshire countryside.”

Her casting vote refused the development, subject to appeal.