Councillors invited to ‘decide again’ over Bromham housing plan

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Bromham. Image credit: ADC Films
Bromham. Image credit: ADC Films (www.adcfilms.co.uk)

Councillors have been invited to have another go at making a planning decision that was already on the brink of being signed off.

Bedford Borough Council’s lawyers have advised the planning committee that circumstances have changed since they granted planning permission in October 2019 for up to 80 homes on land off at Stagsden Road, in Bromham.

Councillors had given The Fairfield Partnership the green light when the council was unable to prove that it had a five-year housing land supply.

In those circumstances, the council was under pressure to grant permission to housing developments so it could meet housing needs.

Since then Bedford Council has adopted its local plan to 2030 which has enough housing sites without considering the 10.5 acres.

In a report to Monday’s meeting of the borough’s planning committee, council officer Alastair Wren says legal advice suggests that the adoption of the local plan is a change in circumstances.

This means it should “be reported back to the planning committee for re determination as the circumstances are not the same as when the planning committee made the original resolution to grant planning permission.”

On Monday, councillors will be asked to reconsider their decision and they have been recommended to approve it again.

Planners say Government advice on the status of the Bromham Neighbourhood Plan means it adds weight to their recommendation.

The neighbourhood plan, supported by the parish council, has earmarked the site for development up to 2035.

But the neighbourhood plan has yet to be confirmed by a referendum in the village. That vote has been agreed to take place in 2021.

The Government has said that when neighbourhood plans are so far advanced, even without being backed by a vote in favour, they can be granted a higher status.

The housing plan has attracted 37 letters from opponents who are worried about the effect on local schools and roads from the new residents.

Opponents include Stagsden Parish Council, concerned about drivers using their village as a cut-through.

And a resident in New Road, Bromham, has complained that people would walk, and ride bikes “at all hours which will change the whole dynamic of the street.”

But planning officers say “people are free to walk and cycle on public roads” and that their highways experts say Stagsden is unlikely to see more traffic as a result of the development.

Another landowner has also objected, saying their own site near the village should be considered for development first.

Borough planners conclude that there is “no technical reason to refuse the application.”

Elected councillors will make their decision at a virtual meeting from 6.30pm on Monday, August 17.

It will be broadcast on YouTube here.

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