Two new settlements with thousands of homes each are on the drawing board as the Government tells Bedford Borough Council that it needs to find space for an extra 12,500 homes.
The location for the dwellings will be decided following the next stage of consultation for the Local Plan 2040, which was approved by Bedford Borough Council Executive at their meeting yesterday (Wednesday).
Based on the Government’s latest methodology, the new Local Plan needs to allocate land for a minimum of 12,500 additional new dwellings and space for around 8,650 jobs.
Local Plans are created by local authorities to set out where growth and development will take place – everything from homes and jobs to schools and infrastructure – and in preparation for the Local Plan 2040, they are asking for residents’ views.
Two sites earmarked for development
Both sites that have been earmarked are close to the border with St Neots in the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire – one west of Wyboston and the other south of Little Barford.
The site near Wyboston has already been given a name – Dennybrook.
“The shortlist includes development in one or two new settlements, at Dennybrook, near Wyboston, and at Little Barford,” confirmed Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson at last night’s meeting.
Mayor Hodgson said the sites are close to road and rail infrastructure and had emerged during a consultation process last year. They could become reality between 2030 and 2040.
The council has whittled down options from 13 to four but the mayor says the council will welcome comments on those as well as other suggestions.
A consultation exercise will be held from the end of this month until September, with information being sent to every household in the borough.
The mayor told the meeting that the local plan has to provide for 1,275 homes to be built each year, following a Government upgrade from 970 per year.
The figure is backdated to 2020.
“Overall we will need to identify sites for at least another 12,500 dwellings,” said the mayor.
“Space for infrastructure and new jobs will also be needed.”
Developers and others have suggested 430 sites across the borough that could be built on.
All are being made available on the council’s website and are in the process of being assessed.
The council says it will not need all of the suggested sites but it is looking at a strategy of building in or next to urban Bedford.
It is also looking at sites close to the A421 and railway stations.
Some of the options envisage a new 3,085-home settlement at Little Barford or 2,500 houses at Dennybrook, west of Wyboston.
In one option, 7,500 homes would be spread amongst Kempston Hardwick, Stewartby and Wixams. Another 2,000 could come for in Cotton End, Elstow, Kempston Rural, Shortstown, Wilstead and Wootton.
Another option brings parishes in the east of the borough into the mix with Cardington, Cople, Great Barford, Little Barford, Roxton, Willington and Wyboston earmarked for 750 homes.
Conservative Councillor for Great Barford, Cllr Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant said: “Unlike other councils, Bedford Borough is once again having to produce another local plan as soon as it’s finished the last one in order to avoid the penalty of not having enough housing land and ‘speculative’ applications having to be granted.
“Bouncing from one plan to the next means it is hard to create a balance between much-needed housing and maintaining the character of our communities and protecting the environment.
“This short term approach also means the council is constantly playing a numbers game and there is never any time left to review design guidance which is now over 20 years old.
“With all the emphasis on the ‘where’ there is no time to consider the ‘what’ – leaving many new developments failing to achieve the best quality we deserve.”
More details and maps will be available on the Bedford Borough Council website.
by Local Democracy Reporter David Tooley
with additional reporting by Erica Roffe