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CPRE Bedfordshire's response to Bedford Borough Council's Local Plan consultation 2035

Monday, 12 June 2017 10:09

Read our response to Bedford Borough Council's draft Local Plan 2035 consultation, which was open for consultation for six weeks between April and June, setting out its proposals for where the new homes it needs will be built. 
The council is proposing it needs 19,000 new homes between 2015 and 2035 for its residents, which is equivalent to building five new towns the size of Ampthill in the Borough.
Plans include huge increases to villages such as Bromham, Sharnbrook, Great Barford and Wilstead plus the creation of new towns in the north Bedfordshire countryside. The brownfield site of the former brickworks at Stewartby has also been put forward as a site.
At the heart of our response, we disagree that 19,000 homes are needed over the period 2015 to 2035 – our calculation shows that 15,000 new homes would be a more reasonable number - a 20% reduction.
Looking at the figures, it appears that Bedford Borough Council (BBC) have chosen to disregard the use of the official 2011 census figures – a well-proven methodology for predicting housing numbers – and instead used a method that has increased the final figure by 4,000 homes.
We do not accept the case to increase Group 1 villages "service centre" villages (Bromham, Clapham, Great Barford and Wilstead) to the levels proposed. With more realistic housing numbers overall, the number of new homes to be allocated to these communities can be substantially reduced to be far more sustainable – less than 200 each.
In some cases the allocations proposed in the Draft Local Plan represent increases of 50% or more to the size of the communities. This will have substantial repercussions, not least an impact on the wider rural road network in north Bedfordshire from the large increase in car movements that these developments would encourage. 
We do not believe that the case has been made for new towns, and we wonder what is driving these proposals other than the availability of Government funding from the “Locally Driven Garden Villages and Towns” programme.
According to the draft Local Plan 2035, 2,200 new homes have been allocated to be provided by new settlements. This would equate to 2 medium sized villages. However, the draft Local Plan is considering developer proposals of between 4,000 and 10,000 new homes.                                      
This is development on a totally different scale altogether – massive in comparison. New settlements on this scale would commit the Borough to very substantial long term housing developments on these sites well into the next Local Plan period beyond 2035 without any shred of evidence to support it.
We are also very concerned by proposals supported by Bedford Borough Council and SEMLEP to housing development along the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Bedford - Cambridge Corridor. To date, BBC have not advised residents how many of the proposed 1 million new homes that they have committed to across the Corridor will be delivered by the Council.
You can download CPRE Bedfordshire's full response to this consultation below.
Residents will be consulted further on the final draft of the Local Plan, which is expected to be published in the spring of 2018. 

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