Changes Mean That Local Plan Needs to go before Full Central Beds Council

Central Beds Local Plan
Central Bedfordshire Council is taking its Local Plan to a Full Council meeting, to be held on Thursday 26 April, seeking authorisation to submit it to the Secretary of State.

The Local Plan sets out how Central Bedfordshire will develop over the next 20 years. It outlines the strategy for ensuring that the growth needed is delivered in the right places and is of the right character and quality. It also ensures that this growth is delivered alongside supporting roads, schools and services such as health, as well as retail, leisure and community facilities.

The Local Plan includes proposals for new villages at Marston Vale (up to 5000 homes) and east of Biggleswade (around 1500 homes), as well as town extensions north of Luton (around 4000 homes) and east of Arlesey (around 2000 homes).

The council is aiming to submit their plan to the Secretary of State on 30th April 2018. This is in order to submit the Local Plan ahead of changes to national planning policy that could mean government intervention and potentially more new homes than the 20,000 the council have planned for the area.

Having an up-to-date Local Plan in place will mean that the council retains control over where development should be located, rather than it being delivered in an ad hoc way as a result of speculative development, sometimes without sufficient benefit to the local communities.

More than 6275 comments (representations) were made during the pre-submission Local Plan consultation, which was held this year during January and February. All of these comments have been collated and analysed. In response to this feedback, the report to Full Council recommends minor modifications to the Local Plan. If approved by councillors, these recommendations will be sent to an independent Planning Inspector to review ahead of a public examination hearing.

Councillor Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Central Bedfordshire needs growth. This Local Plan is the strategy that will underpin how we achieve the infrastructure, homes and jobs that our residents require. And, crucially, an up-to-date Local Plan will mean we can avoid government intervention that could mean many more homes imposed on us than we are planning for, and also protect us against speculative development.

"It has been an extensive but worthwhile process to get to this point. Importantly, we’ve been able to develop the Local Plan with residents' input. We've listened to the feedback from our pre-submission consultation earlier in the year. We will be recommending a number of minor changes to the Planning Inspector. These will now go before all Council members for a decision."

Councillor Adam Zerny, independent, had these comments to make today, "At the time of the consultation, CBC insisted there were no plans for councillors to be allowed to comment on the Plan afterwards and stated they would not see it again until after it had gone to the Independent inspector for approval. It turns out CBC has decided the Plan will, after all, need to go back to be reviewed by councillors, at a meeting next week. Now, just a week before that meeting, the modifications to the Plan have been made public."

"There are TEN pages of these changes, which supports the concerns expressed by many people that the Plan was a rush job. No doubt, every councillor voting on these changes will, by next week, have read all the amendments and cross-checked them against the 280-page report to which they refer."

"In addition to the changes proposed to appease rail, nature and local authorities, CBC has been forced to acknowledge hundreds of typos, errors and omissions. Mistakes were made on maps. sizes of land plots, housing numbers. The Plan also repeatedly referenced the wrong documents and reports."

Among the proposed local changes to the plan:
1. Change 'Houghton Regis North Strategic Allocation' to 'Houghton Regis North Strategic Commitment'
2. With regard to HRN1 and HRN2, "Add wording 'up to 30% affordable homes, subject to viability testing, to meet the needs of Central Bedfordshire and Luton residents".
3. Add similar wording from HRN2 to North of Luton re Affordable Housing provision for Luton. Add wording 'up to 30% affordable homes, subject to viability testing, to meet
the needs of Central Bedfordshire and Luton residents'.
4. Ensure that A6-M1 link road is described in all instances as a 'strategic route'.
  • The meeting where these alterations will be considered takes place at Priory House, Chicksands at 6.30pm on 26th April and is open to the public.
  • Alterations to the plans in this document

Nigel Young is a Conservative Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Executive Member for Regeneration.
Adam Zerny is an Independent Central Bedfordshire Councillor and Potton Town Council councillor.