7.49 Ha of Green Belt saved from Development
Eaton Bray’s Bower Lane Action Group together with the Parish Council and supported by CPRE Bedfordshire, have won the battle to protect over 7 ha of Green Belt east of the village and within the setting of an area of valued landscape to local residents.
Permission for such development depended on the developer establishing that very special circumstances existed to override those protections. The proposal was for development of 120 new homes on what is considered to be some of Bedfordshire’s best and most versatile agricultural land, and so a valuable resource.
A much loved local area
The development, which was proposed for an unsustainable location on the edge of the village, would have affected the remnants of a Victorian orchard and garden wall. These formed part of the setting and character of the village at this entrance to Eaton Bray. This is an area much loved and valued by the residents who, together with the Parish Council, pulled out all the stops to fight this plan and CPRE Bedfordshire were pleased to be able to offer advice and support.
The village’s Neighbourhood Plan was adopted in 2019 and this site had not been allocated for development within it.
Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) had rejected the planning application submitted by Settle Group and Taylor French Developments, who then took the case to an Appeal Hearing which was heard at the Eaton Bray Village Hall earlier this year.
Having established that CBC had the required 5 year forward land supply and therefore these homes were not needed to contribute to that, the discussions were mainly around the very special circumstance to allow development in the Green Belt and the impact of the proposal on the landscape.
The very special circumstances were claimed by the developers to be the inclusion of a 50% allocation of affordable homes.
However, the Inspector determined that the development was harmful to the Green Belt, and would significantly harm the landscape character of the area; therefore the proposal should not be approved.
The result of this case can now be used in evidence to defend other similar challenges and so was welcomed by CPRE Bedfordshire. It will help us in our work of protecting the countryside we all value so highly, from similar unsustainable development.
CPRE Bedfordshire are happy to have been able to support the residents of Eaton Bray in achieving this very satisfying result for all involved.