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The scandal of land-banking - part II

Thursday, 16 August 2018 08:55

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) admits to taking decisions in secret and refuses to answer key questions.

On 12 July this year CPRE Bedfordshire wrote to James Jamieson, Leader of CBC  asking a number of detailed questions about the scandal of “Land Banking” at HRN1 - the largest single housing development site anywhere in Bedfordshire. The letter is available to download at the bottom of this page.

Land-banking is delaying the development of new homes for over 5,000 families.

 

We received a letter in response from Mr Jamieson’s colleague, the Director of Regeneration and Business, Jason Longhurst dated 24 July (available to download below)

This letter confirms that CBC’s decision to accept substantial delays to housebuilding at HRN1 was taken in secret.

 

A spokesperson for CPRE Bedfordshire said:

“It is nothing short of a major scandal that not a brick will be laid at HRN1 until 2023/24 - 10 years after planning permission was given. Building should have commenced many years ago.

It is a further scandal that CBC has taken the decision to accept these delays in secret - “behind closed doors”.

This is not a small, insignificant development, HRN1 is +30% larger than the town of Ampthill – and new homes for around 5,000 families are being unnecessarily delayed by the actions of the Council and Developers.

By taking decisions in secret, the Council has avoided democratic scrutiny by the public and by the majority of Councillors who were not involved in the secret decision making process.
Democratic accountability would have been ensured if the debate and decision were held at a Meeting of CBC’s Executive Committee or, preferably at a Full Council Meeting.
Both of these meetings are televised and can be attended by members of the public.”

 

The spokesperson went on to say:

“Mr. Longhurst has also failed to answer properly the majority of the questions we asked the Leader of CBC, James Jamieson, including:

1. Who took the decision to accept further substantial delays to house building at HRN1?
2. What were the specific reasons for the delays?
3. What specific factors have changed since the grant of planning permission which are now causing the delay to development?

For this reason we have been obliged to write again to James Jamieson, Leader of CBC listing the questions that Mr. Longhurst has failed to answer and asking for his detailed response.
We have also requested that the whole issue of HRN1 be debated at the next Full Council Meeting (available to download below)

We look forward to his response.”

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