CBC in Negotiations to Have the Houghton Regis Chalk Pit Managed

In a report to the Houghton Regis Partnership Committee this evening, councillors will learn of progress to manage the Houghton Regis Chalk Pit. Last October, News Desk reported that the 'Houghton Regis Chalk Pit Maintenance Money [was] Now Available'.

Last September, money was received by Central Bedfordshire Council from the developer for Quarry Maintenance to meet the first and second funding thresholds of £163,712.72 each.  

The Town Council's Partnership Committee will meet online tonight (26th January) at 7pm via Microsoft Teams where they will receive this report in the town's Partnership agenda which says, 

“Houghton Regis Chalk Pit is a privately owned site and with the exception of Footpath 1 there is no official public right of way. [Footpath 1 - see redline on map below]

“Under the terms of a licence agreement with the site owners, the Wildlife Trust managed the site with funding provided via a S106 agreement. The conditions required the production of a management plan which was developed by the Trust and approved by Natural England as the quarry is part SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

“The S106 made provision for payment of a commuted sum to the Wildlife Trust for the implementation of the plan and the cost of employing a management officer, full time, for the site, from autumn 2011 to spring 2017. The small amount left over was used by the Wildlife Trust, initially to continue the management of invasive scrub in the base of the quarry and more recently to cover the costs of litter removal. As the Trust no longer has any formal engagement with the quarry, the additional works were agreed with the owners separately. 

The Council is now in receipt of the first tranche of new S106 funds to support the maintenance of the site.

“As HRN2 is developed further this will trigger additional payments until the full quarry maintenance
contribution of £1,016,000 is reached.

“Initial discussions with the Wildlife Trust have indicated that they would be interested in managing the site again although understandably this will be subject to agreement on terms. This includes a renewal of the licence agreement between the owners and the Trust to occupy the site plus a funding agreement between the Council and the Trust.

“In the short term the Wildlife Trust and the Council will arrange for a preliminary site visit to assess the visual condition of the site and consider the work needed in order to develop a new management plan for approval by Natural England.

“The Wildlife Trust will need to identify the resource needed for this work which in the current climate may be challenging but once allocated this will start the preliminary work needed in order to commence longer term management of the site.”