Following pressure from CPRE Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough Council has released figures that suggest they’ve made plans to build over 1000 homes that aren’t needed.
In an update to their Local Plan 2030 issued this week (18 June) Bedford Borough Council released figures for the houses they say need to be built across the area by 2030.
The update includes indication of a surplus of 1002 homes, which is equivalent to a village the size of Sharnbrook or Oakley.
To put this into perspective, the entire Local Plan allocation of new homes to the villages of Sharnbrook, Great Barford, Bromham and Clapham is 2,000 new homes, 500 each.
The Government’s Planning Inspectorate is currently examining Bedford Borough Council’s Local Plan 2030, which requires that 14,550 new homes are planned for and built between 2015 and 2030.
It is usual for Local Plans to include a contingency in case not all sites identified for development are built, or built within the timescale envisaged.
Chair of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Bedfordshire, Gerry Sansom, said: “It is recognised that our country is facing the catastrophe of massive biodiversity loss due in part, to overdevelopment – the concreting over of our countryside.
“For Bedford Borough Council to hold a contingency of 1,000 homes is quite unacceptable. The allocation of new homes to the key service villages will be built entirely on Greenfield sites in open countryside.
“We are now calling on the mayor to use this contingency to substantially reduce the number of new homes allocated to the key service villages so that development is more sustainable.
“For example, the 500 new homes that both Sharnbrook and Great Barford are required to take under the new Local Plan proposals represents a +50% increase in the size of each of these villages – this is totally unsustainable and will result in massive environmental degradation.
“The mayor says that his priority is to reverse Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss – let’s see if his actions match his words. Or is he more interested in supporting the vested interests of land owners and property developers?”
However, a Borough Council spokesperson added: “The contingency is less than 7% of the Plan’s total housing requirement, which is not excessive in strategic planning terms over a 15 year period, and is required if the Plan is to withstand challenge from the development industry.
“If the Plan was to fail to withstand challenge and was rejected by the Inspectorate, as has happened elsewhere, we could end up with totally unsuitable sites liable to be built upon.
“Ultimately the Inspectorate will make a judgement on the Local Plan 2030 as a whole, and should they find that the amount of land identified for development is inappropriate they are able to recommend that the Plan is changed.”
If you have any comments on Bedford Borough Council’s Local Plan 2030, CPRE Bedfordshire are recommending you write directly to Mayor Dave Hodgson by email.
You can also write to him at Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AP.