Stotfold housing plan approved forcing town’s biggest employer to move
- Credit: Archant
Plans for 161 homes on land south of Arlesey Road in Stotfold have been approved.
Councillors approved the application with 11 votes in favour, none against and one abstention at a Central Bedfordshire Council Development Management Committee meeting at Priory House in Chicksands on Wednesday.
The proposals by Linden Homes include around fifty affordable properties, but the scheme will result in the loss of the town’s biggest employer, Saunders Garage and recovery yard, although the company is looking to relocate locally.
Linden Homes Chiltern land and planning director, Nick Laugharne said following talks about the removal of Saunders Garage, the commercial use of the haulage site will stop no later than October 2020.
Part of the site is allocated for housing, but a meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee heard that a section of it is in the countryside.
Stotfold town councillor Brian Collier told the committee the council is opposed to the project.
He said recently completed developments in the area and those with planning permission total 576 homes.
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“If this scheme is allowed in full, it becomes 737 properties for which there has been no overall plan.
“As far as Fairfield is concerned, it’s 316 homes plus a 70-bed unit, so the total for the two parishes is 1,053 homes.
“In this current Local Plan period, Stotfold with Fairfield was put down for 250 dwellings,” he added.
“That’s been grossly exceeded. The accumulative effect of this is going to have a great concern to us about our local facilities being able to cope.
“With this number we are likely to need a new primary school in Stotfold.”
Tim Polston, representing some residents in Stotfold, said: “The proposal is an overdevelopment in the location.
“In terms of sustainability, Stotfold is a minor service centre. It does not have a recognised town centre and lacks service and employment provision.”
Conservative Stotfold and Langford councillor Steve Dixon described it as “a clever application with the majority of the site within the settlement envelope.”
He said: “Stotfold has seen nothing but a reduction in employment during the last ten years.
“Saunders are the largest single employer in the town and they’re moving off this site, and despite assurances from the company that it’s looking to relocate within Stotfold, again I’m questioning the sustainability of this.
“What does sustainability really mean? It’s all very well saying this site in isolation is sustainable, but is it giving anything back to make the community of Stotfold sustainable?
“I don’t think it does.”
The National Planning Policy Framework defines sustainable as economic, social and environmental, said Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Ken Matthews, who chairs the committee.
A report to councillors said the development “is considered to represent a sustainable location in planning terms.”
It added: “Although a commercial operation will be removed from the site, there are social and environmental benefits associated with the scheme, as well as economic benefits connected with the provision of housing.”
Conservative Toddington councillor Tom Nicols described his only concern is “the moving out of the industrial business, which will have to go somewhere.”
He sympathised with the town council as the areas been asked to accept “more and more” housing, with no promise that the allocation is “at an end”.
But he added that towns and parishes were sent a letter to give their views on the new calculations for housing provision, which resulted in little response.