Update on 'The Gates' - 121 homes on an Arable Field at Bidwell

CB/19/02130/FULL, 121 dwellings at The Gates, East of Bedford Road, Bidwell  

Objections and comments relating to 'The Gates' - a proposed development of 121 homes at Bidwell have been coming into Central Bedfordshire Council.

I reported on this scheme on July 27th.

It is an arable site at present:

Site entrance on Bedford Road

Site border in red.

In the Design and Access Statement for the application, it is stated that “A  strong  green infrastructure should be established, providing a green  corridor  connecting  HRN1 and HRN2.” The same document seeks to demonstrate how this is met by the inclusion of this diagram. Despite developments being approved around Houghton Regis, the land is still classified as Green Belt.

The Rights of Way Officer has not objected to the scheme, rather he makes comments designed to be helpful with regard to the width of the path, and especially with regard to FP45 which runs to the east of the site.

Houghton Regis Town Council has objected:
•  The layout of the buildings adjoining the Bedford Road frontage should be changed so that these homes face the road reflecting the layout of the original hamlet and with respect to the setting of the adjoining listed building,
•  The dwellings facing Bedford Road should be designed to reflect the materials and scale of the hamlet,
•  The children’s play area should be relocated elsewhere in the site to avoid placing close to a road and not adjoining a pond for reasons of safety,
•  The spine road through the estate should be re-designed to reduce traffic speeds, reduce the lengths of straight carriageway and use the resulting design to introduce more landscaping into the street scene and reduce the appearance of a dense urban setting

Senior Planning Officer, 'The  site  remains  within  the  Green  Belt  at  this  time  and  therefore  demonstration  of  Very Special Circumstances would be required.'

Senior Drainage Engineer supports the approval of the proposed development.

The Policy officer has come up with a list of suggested schemes that could benefit the site, and the town in a wider context. This includes a contribution of £119,680 towards a  replacement for the Houghton  Regis Leisure  Centre, a contribution of £100,938 towards upgrading and extending or providing new changing facilities, including a 3G pitch at Tithe Farm Recreation Ground,
£25,410  towards  refurbishment  works  for  the  Library, a contribution towards Houghton Regis cemeteries to be negotiated, a contribution towards Community Orchard at Woodside Link to be negotiated, a request for a separate teenage meeting area with shelter and/or equipment, an improved play equipment offer, or £97,000 towards the Town Council’s ongoing programme of investments and improvement works to play areas in Houghton Regis.

There is an objection in that there is no provision to provide for people who wish to build their own home: 'the applicant is asked to deliver a minimum of 10% of the proposed dwellings as serviced plots, this equates to twelve plots.'

Archaeological Officer requires a condition is imposed to undertake archaeological investigation and recording of archaeological remain.

Ecologist officer suggests more trees and has concerns over hedgerows and the low number of bat and bird boxes indicated. Also requests a scheme of Public Art is incorporated.

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