Stondon housing and village facilities schemes backed by planners
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New sport and leisure facilities are to be provided for the people of Stondon as part of a development linked to a second scheme to build 40 homes in the village.
The housing is to be built on land at the back of Stondon Lower School and playing fields in Upper Stondon by applicant Optimus Consulting.
Its other project involves the demolition of the village hall and sports pavilion on land next to 6 The Pastures at Upper Stondon.
A new village hall and sports pavilion will be built there, along with a tennis court, school play ground and an improved car parking area.
These proposals were also agreed by Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.
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“The redevelopment of Stondon Recreation Association facilities and the parish council-owned village hall in Stondon offer significant community gains,” according to Nigel Benson, who chairs Stondon Parish Council.
“We are concerned the development schedule for the 40 homes will delay these gains,” he told the meeting last Wednesday.
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“The village hall is widely used so talks are required to ensure access to the facilities are maintained while the village hall is being rebuilt,” he said.
“To minimise disruption to existing parish services, ideally the new sports pavilion needs to be open before the old one is knocked down.
“This will provide an interim facility for village hall users while the new hall is being built,” he explained.
“We want to see that both developments are considered as a single entity in relation to any Section 106 reserve matters and legal agreements.
“We are pleased we finally have a vision of new community facilties in sight, albeit funded by 40 houses in a village beseiged by developers.”
Justin Wittlesham said: “This project started in November 2013 when we were asked by the parish council to discuss the extension of the village hall.
“It was determined at the time there might be a better opportunity to deal with wider facilities in the village.
“What you see before you is a scheme that’s spent five years in the making, as we’ve gone through a fairly extensive consultation process.
“What we are delivering is improved education, improved community buildings, improved recreational facilities, and we are adding to the public open areas and car parking, making better access for all within the village.
“This is now a site without any objections, as far as the technical matters are concerned,” he added.
“This is a site outside the settlement boundary, but it is on the edge of it.
“Our main purpose is to deliver the community facilties which have been discussed.”
Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno said: “We will work to ensure the phasing plan for this application works to everyone’s benefit.
“There’s a strong relationship already with the parish council, and I would like to see that continue.
“I realise it’s outsde the village envelope, but this seems like one of those applications which doesn’t come along very often, and which seems like sensible infill. It fills a gap.
“In Stondon and Lower Stondon in recent years, there’s been a huge amount of development, but what hasn’t come with that is lots of additonal facilities.
“And that money sits with Central Bedfordshire. This scheme and the next one pull all that together.
“It enables us to put fantastic facilities into Lower Stondon, so I support that and an awful lot of thought has gone into that.
“The current village hall is used by lots of groups and this has pretty much reached the end of its natural life.
“This will give us the opportunity to develop much improved facilities.
“I welcome the benefits the applicant is willing to provide, and I am pleased with the level of the afforable housing being provided,” he added.
“I have discussed it with my fellow ward councillors. They support it, as well. We think it is of great benefit to our local community.
“This application gives us a massive improvement in sport and leisure facilities in Stondon.”
Conservative Toddington councillor Tom Nicols said: “It’s refreshing when a village facing growth deals with it, addresses it, gets on with it, so that everyone benefits. This seems just such a case.
“My congratulations to that parish for working hard to ensure a development in their village which isn’t a hostile one, but one which everyone benefits from.”
Both developments were approved by 11 votes in favour, none against, and one abstention.