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Thousands of new commuter homes planned for Bedford Borough’s countryside

Monday, 22 May 2017 10:25

CPRE Bedfordshire has learned that over 40% of the 19,000 planned new homes that Bedford Borough Council claims it needs to build in its Local Plan 2035, are for people moving into Bedford Borough from elsewhere in the UK.

CPRE Bedfordshire established this figure from a Freedom of Information request it sent to Bedford Borough Council in April. It learned that just over half of the homes (59%) that Bedford Borough Council claim to need are to cater for the housing needs of Bedford Borough residents.

Bedford Borough Council’s draft Local Plan 2035, currently out for consultation,  states that it needs to build 19,000 new homes over the period 2015 to 2035 - equivalent to building 5 new towns the size of Ampthill in the Borough.

Plans include huge increases to villages such as Sharnbrook, Great Barford and Wilstead plus the creation of massive new towns in the north Bedfordshire countryside.

The Local Plan also states that these new homes will bring over 11,400 new workers seeking employment over the Plan period, yet the Plan also estimates that only 5,500 new employees will be needed by businesses in the Borough during this time.

This means that at an additional 5,900 people will have to commute out of the area to find work in places like London, Milton Keynes, Cambridge.

A CPRE Bedfordshire spokesperson said:

 “We accept that new homes need to be planned for those moving into the area, but 40% is simply unsustainable, especially considering that in many case those moving into the Borough will have jobs elsewhere.

“These numbers will turn north Bedfordshire into a series of commuter towns, and the local road and rail infrastructure is already struggling to cope at peak times.

“This over-development of the countryside is unsustainable and not fair on the people of Bedford Borough.”


1. Details of the Draft Local Plan 2035 employment numbers can be found on pages 101 and 102 of the Strategic Housing market Assessment Updated October 2016 which can be found as “Paper A” at this link:


2. The town of Ampthill has approximately 4,000 houses.

3. Details of the proposed new towns in Sharnbrook, Thurleigh Airfield, Twinwoods and Wyboston can also be found using the above link. 

4. In the case of Sharnbrook the “new settlement proposals” are in addition to the 600 new homes already proposed in the Draft Local Plan 2035.

5. Our initial thoughts on Bedford Borough Council's Local Plan 2015 consultation can be downloaded below.

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