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The scandal of land-banking - part III

Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:28

 

Over £200 million of public money spent on two new roads to support the development of 5,125 new homes at Houghton Regis North.

So far, not one single house has been built.

(Read more about Houghton Regis Land Banking Scandal here and here)

 

In June 2014, Planning permission was given for the building of 5,125 new homes at Houghton Regis North Site 1 (HRN1) – a development 30% larger than the town of Ampthill.

As part of the infrastructure for the new development two new roads were built – the A5 – M1 Link Road (cost: £162 million) and the Woodside Link Road (cost: £38.3 million) these roads were officially opened in April/May 2017 – over one year ago.

Despite this massive expenditure from the public purse not one house has yet been built. In their latest “Housing Trajectory” (July 2018) Central Bedfordshire Council state that they expect just 187 new homes to be built on the site up till 2023/24, ten years after planning consent was given to the developers who include Aviva and the Diocese of St Albans.

 

A map of the proposed development, including the roads, can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

 

Central Bedfordshire Council say on their website that:

“The Woodside Link road will provide access to a new development north of Houghton Regis, where 5,600 new homes are to be built and 30 hectares of employment land developed by 2031.”

However, the Council’s latest Housing Trajectory (July 2018) shows that in fact just 1,650 new homes will be built at HRN1 by 2031/32 – 17 years after planning permission was granted!

CPRE Bedfordshire has seen papers from the Developers and CBC which state that around 1,000 new homes could have been built on the site even before the two new roads were constructed.

 

A spokesperson from CPRE Bedfordshire said:

“This is the biggest single housing development anywhere in Bedfordshire – 5,000 families are being deprived of new homes by Developers who are playing the system and Central Bedfordshire Council are complicit in this scandal.

Millions of pounds of public money have been invested in two new roads and one of the main reasons for this investment was that it would allow for the development of desperately needed new homes at Houghton Regis North Site 1.

It is Developers who profit massively from not building when permission has been given and it’s the public who pay the price!
In this case quite literally with the cost of new roads and also families deprived of new homes.

The people of Bedfordshire lose their countryside as well because, as Developers well know, if this land isn’t built on then even more Greenfield land will need to be allocated for development.”

 

The spokesperson went on to say:

“CPRE Bedfordshire questioned CBC on the issue of Houghton Regis North at the last Full Council Meeting (27 Sept) - The Leader of the Council, Cllr. James Jamieson said that they were not to blame – and that CBC do not build houses Developers do.

This is disingenuous – house building is a partnership between Developers who build and Councils who provide various permissions and planning agreements – one cannot move forward without the other.

It is amazing that CBC have been conspicuous in their silence over this scandal of Land Banking – it’s taken CPRE Bedfordshire to bring it to the public attention.”

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