A plan for 80 homes on the outskirts of a village has been rejected because it would have encouraged people to drive.
Government planning inspector Stephen Wilkinson this week decided to back Bedford Borough Council’s defence of a plot of land off Oakley Road, on the outskirts of Bromham.
Landcrest Developments Ltd had appealed to Whitehall after the borough failed to decide within legal time limits on their outline scheme to build up to 80 homes on the site.
The plan had been with the council since October 2018.
Mr Wilkinson said the plans did not enable access to shops and services by walking, cycling or by bus.
And he said other developments supported by the village’s own emerging plan were closer.
He said one of the walking routes had a “sharp dog leg which could raise issues of personal safety for vulnerable users.” Other routes would be difficult for people carrying shopping, he said.
He continued: “This would lead to additional traffic generation This point alone undermines the purported benefit of the scheme, that is, the inclusion of 32 affordable homes, to which the appellant ascribes ‘very substantial weight’.”
Indeed, he said that people living in affordable housing on the site could have their “economic challenges” made worse by their location away from village services and buses.
Mr Wilkinson also ruled that the development would harm the landscape and extend Bromham northwards.
He also ruled that the new homes were not critical because the council can prove it already has a supply of housing land.
The inspector’s decision was announced on Thursday (April 16) following a site visit on February 26, held during a four-day inquiry.
The inquiry heard evidence from barristers, planning experts, and was attended by local residents, and countryside campaigners.
The council’s adoption of a new local plan at the turn of this year proved to be significant, with Mr Wilkinson agreeing that it allowed the council to press the reset button.
It also led to the planning committee changing its mind on how it would have voted.
In November 2019, councillors voted that they would have granted the proposal.
The developer pressed ahead with the appeal in the meantime. But on February 24 this year the planning committee changed its mind.
Backed up by the newly beefed-up policies, including proof of enough land for housing, they voted to reject the plan.
The inspector rejected an argument based on the national Government’s plan to built one million new homes in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc before 2050.
He said the details of that weren’t known in any detail and “it would be wrong to prejudge this situation for the purposes of this Inquiry.”
Mr Wilkinson said that the scheme would have social and economic benefits but these were outweighed by the harm it would do.
Words: David Tooley, Local Democracy Reporter and Paul Hutchinson