Bellcross Homes — Update on Online Planning Application



I first wrote about this application on 23 July. This is an Outline Application, which means the details are just sketchy at this time. Once they know more about what is required the applicants may decide to withdraw the application and submit a new one, or submit a FULL application.

 This scheme is for the provision of up to 350 residential dwellings and associated works on Land to the east of Houghton Park Road Houghton Regis. The controversial aspects, particularly for local residents, hinged around access to the site via Houghton Park Road and Conquest Road.

Detail from part 2 of the Design & Access statement


It is notable that the Development Management Committee (Wed, 9th Oct 2019 - 10:00 am) of Central Bedfordshire Council, where these applications are decided if they are called in by a councillor, is not on the agenda. This suggests more work is required by officers or the applicants are having second thoughts.

Either way, it is notable that as of today the CBC website is showing:
Responses Received: 89
and Representatives: In Favour: 0
Representation Details Against: 86
Comments: 3

Below I summarise some of the comments made about the application together with links should anyone want to read in full.

Town Council

Of the responding bodies, Houghton Regis Town Council has objected. They list the following reasons:
•  the proposal avoids any of the education, community or other facilities required for a new community of this size and/or those anticipated for this part of the HRN development shown in the Framework Plan,
•  the proposed scheme would rely on all road traffic to and from the site passing along Conquest Road before joining Parkside Drive. This would be a major detriment to the residents on Conquest Road by virtue of noise, disturbance and possibly safety and pollution problems.
Furthermore the Council asks that 'The current application should be refused or withdrawn in favour of a scheme which shows an integrated approach to the development of this area, showing the proper provision of community facilities and transport provisions.'

Housing Needs

The needs of older people have been looked into, and a recommendation is given from the appropriate CBC department for 48 Units of Mainstream Housing Suitable for Older People, 19 Units of Housing with Support for Older People and 14 Units of Housing with Care for Older People.

Housing Development  'Strategic Housing support this application as it provides for 105 affordable homes which provide for 30% affordable housing provision, complying with current affordable housing policy requirements. '

Luton Council   With regard to the 30% affordable housing, this Council comments, 'we would expect if you are minded to grant permission, that the site would contribute to meeting the needs of Luton and as such that the affordable housing would also be to meet Luton's needs. We also remain of the view that the Local Plan Inspector outlined his expectation that on sites identified to meet Luton's needs, all of the housing is for Luton's needs, including the affordable housing.'

Highways

Principal Highways Officer,  'The Transport Assessment states that the principle of access via the west onto Conquest Road was agreed with CBC’s Highways Development Management team in 2017. Previous proposals for the site put forward by the applicant included temporary access to a proportion of the site via Conquest Road and Houghton Park Road, with the full development to be accessed from the HRN1 site to the east and the vehicular accesses to the Parkside estate stopped up.'

In relation to bus stops, 'a significant proportion lies outside 400m.'
'The methodology used to assess the impact of the proposed development on the local highway network is not considered to be acceptable'
'...  there should be a ban for all traffic associated with construction of the proposal in using Houghton Park Drive.'
'there should be further consideration in relation to alterations of Conquest Road.'

Rights of Way 

Officer makes suggestions for dedicated as rights of way and suggestions that would provide a meaningful connection to the existing cycle track

Landscaping

Landscape Officer makes suggestions for improvements. Landscape Officer points out there is a requirement for the provision of Public Art as part of proposed development due to scale and character of proposals.

SuDS

SuDS Officer (sustainable drainage system) recommends a series of planning conditions that the applicant should meet.

Sustainable Growth 

In relation to plots for self-build* ' the  applicant  is  asked  to deliver a minimum of 10% of the proposed dwellings as serviced plots, this equates to thirty-five plots'

* The Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended) places a legal duty on Local PlanningAuthorities to operate a Register of people interested in self and custom housebuilding in their area and to grant permission for a sufficient number of serviced plots to match the demand demonstrated by the local  Register.    The Council has 3  years to meet the demand for each registration period,  with  first period ending on 30th October 2016 and subsequent 12 months periods starting on 31st October.

Planning

Planning  During the Local Plan discussion of the site,  it was suggested by the Inspector that the Council considered a modification to Policy HA1 to ensure that this site, HAS29, was accessible from the adjoining Houghton Regis North (Linmere) commitment.
Currently, this site remains within the  Green  Belt and therefore, until such a time that the  Local  Plan is found sound and adopted,  the  applicant will need to demonstrate Very Special Circumstances.

Archaeology

Archaeologist makes recommendations for archaeological fieldwork, post-excavation analysis and publication as a condition on planning being permitted

Other

Natural England and Environment Agency have no objections.

Unfortunately, the consultation period for this application has now closed. That is not to say that any late comments may not be entertained. The email address to write to is planning@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk quoting 19/02053/OUT

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