“Patient” developer gets go ahead for 390 new homes in Bromham

Bricks - Building

Planners have given the go-ahead for up to 390 new homes to be built on the outskirts of Bromham.

A committee was told that the principle of developing the site, off Stagsden Road, had been democratically accepted by the village in May when residents voted to approve their neighbourhood plan.

Developers of the site near the junction of the A422 and the A428 were thanked for their patience in agreeing to set aside normal time limits for deciding big planning applications until after the referendum.

The developer had lodged the application in 2019.

Janine Laver, Bedford Borough Council’s development manager, said she was confident that planners are “getting the best we can for the borough.”

The debate at the planning committee on Monday revealed behind the scenes negotiations between the council and the developers.

Cllr Sue Oliver (Lab, Kempston North) said halving the amount of affordable housing on the site from 30 per cent to 15 per cent went “against the grain” for her.

But Ms Laver explained that the reduction was part of the normal “push and pull” in planning where there is a “balance to be struck” between competing priorities.

The council is allowed to set conditions where developers have to make contributions to community projects. But the cost of those conditions when added up cannot make projects unviable.

And in this case, the developer has agreed to pay £390,000 to help repair a culvert that is in danger of collapse as well as £342,260 for phase two of the new Biddenham surgery.

Engineers have told the council that unless the culvert is strengthened Stagsden Road would either need a weight restriction or a total closure.

“Total closure would seriously affect community cohesion as all vehicle trips to the village would have to either go out to the A428/A422 to get back in or use the secondary access at Barker Drive,” a report to councillors said.

Ms Laver said developers had a right to make a financial return.

And Martin Grant Homes had been able to prove to the council that if too many demands were made on them the development would not be viable.

The committee was told this had been independently assessed.

The planning committee on Monday was told that the village would get a new sports ground, and a new roundabout as well as being able to achieve a large part of their neighbourhood plan commitment.

Having up to 390 homes on the site means the village is well on the way to meeting its commitment in the neighbourhood plan to find space for 500 new homes, the meeting heard.

The committee voted unanimously to give the green light to the development and to a list of 36 conditions.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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