Bedford Borough is consulting on its new Local Plan 2040 from Tuesday 29 June to 5pm on Friday 3 September 2021. KNBG encourages all residents in our area to read the Local Plan Development Strategy Paper found by clicking here.
AND to respond to the consultation to have a say in where development goes. Don’t let it be decided for us!
You can either write directly to Planning Policy Team at Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AP or email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the consultation response form which can be found here https://bedford.oc2.uk/.
KNBG is disappointed that the Borough has done nothing to challenge the increase in its housing target imposed by Central Government. The basis of the assumptions and the associated algorithm are widely subject to considerable challenge and certainty and use outdated 2014 ONS data rather than the more up to date 2018 data which would result in a significantly lower building requirement. This use of the 2014 date means the Borough needs to allocate land to enable a minimum of 25,500 homes to be built between 2020 – 2040, or 1,275 new homes a year. This represents a + 32% increase over the current Local Plan housing target approved just a year ago.
BBC’s own Housing Need Assessment states that the housing needs of the all the people of the Borough plus a normal level of inward migration from elsewhere in the UK, can be met with just 15,442 new homes – a very considerable reduction.
The Borough is anticipating a disproportionate and massive inward migration of new residents to the Borough a year resulting from the Oxford-Milton Keynes- Bedford- Cambridge Arc proposals which our Mayor signed us up to without consultation with Borough Councillors or, more importantly, local residents. This is why the housing target is so high.
In its Development Strategy Topic Paper the Borough has identified 7 potential development options for you to comment on.
Of these the Borough’s Planning Policy Team recognise as “preferred options”; 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d, using the A421 transport corridor south of Bedford and report that these options would appear to fulfil sustainability criteria, with potential new stations at Stewartby/Kempston Hardwick and Wixams and which maximise the use of previously developed and lower quality agricultural land, increasing the use of public transport, cycling and walking resulting in lower CO2 emissions. KNBG supports these options.
However, the two large new settlement sites in our Great Ouse valley area at Twinwoods (Clapham/Milton Ernest/Thurleigh/Bletsoe – 3,495 homes) and Sharnbrook (Colworth 2,400 homes) are also featured at options 3a – 3c.
If these options are chosen this could potentially require further development in Rural Service Centres in our area such as Harrold, Carlton, Milton Ernest, Oakley and Turvey with each required to provide up to 35 homes with a possible further 500 additional homes at Sharnbrook, Clapham and Bromham as Key Service Centres. These would be in addition to the 500 already provided for in the current Local Plan 2030.
Furthermore, this level of development at Twinwoods or Colworth will have a huge impact on the A6, and our rural roads and villages which already suffer from rat running to avoid existing congestion on the A6. It would also result in the loss of acres of prime agricultural land. It is important to remember that developers of both sites put forward much larger housing targets in the 2030 Local Plan consultation and are capable of taking 4,500 homes (Colworth) and 7,000 homes (Twinwoods) or more. If either of them is accepted into the 2040 Local Plan these additional homes would undoubtedly come forward for further development in the next Local Plan 2050.
KNBG would strongly encourage residents to:
I. Reject BBC’s Local Plan 2040 housing target of 1,275 new homes which represents an unsustainable +32% increase compared to the current Local Plan of 970 new homes per year, and encourage the Council to reject the government’s widely criticised Standard Method of calculating housing need.
This housing target is one of the highest of any local authority in the south east of England outside of Greater London and represents an unsustainable level of development at a time of Climate Emergency and Biodiversity loss.
BBC should instead, challenge government and use up to date 2018 ONS housing formation data which will keep housing numbers at current local Plan levels.
2. Support the Borough’s Local Plan 2040 by writing in support of options 2a – 2d but with lower housing numbers as above.
These options take maximum advantage of the A421 dual carriageway and its connection to the M1, as a prime transport route to and from Bedford on the south west/north east axis. Additionally the new / improved stations on the East West Rail route will be complementary to options 2a to 2d.
KNBG supports development along the A421 corridor which will help maintain the character of the Great Ouse Valley, without the pressure of additional levels of growth and despoiling one of the most beautiful parts of our county. KNBG strongly disagrees with any inclusion in the 2040 Plan of the new large settlement sites at Twinwoods or Colworth.
3. Reject current Plans for 500 new homes in each of the Key Rural Service Centres of Sharnbrook, Clapham, Bromham and Great Barford (Total of 2,000), which are incorporated into the Local Plan 2040 but should be reduced by 50% to 250 new homes in each village.
This action can now be taken because BBC has already exceeded the number of homes that it should have built in the last 3 years by approximately 1,000 new homes over and above the target of 970 new homes/year.