The Framework Plan sits within a plan called the ‘Development Strategy for Central Bedfordshire’. Part of the Development Strategy was examined by a Planning Inspector recently. The Inspector said the strategy did not meet the requirements of national planning policy and guidance on how this policy should be applied. The Inspector declared the strategy unsound. There is a pending Judicial Review of the Inspector’s decision. The Luton North Framework Plan has not been independently examined by a Planning Inspector.
The public have not been consulted about the path of the M1 A6 road during the formulation of the ‘Development Strategy for Central Bedfordshire’. The Council have not produced any alternative road pathways and evaluated their environmental impacts as the European Union’s Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive EU 2001/42/EC says it should.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s 30% affordable housing figure in the Luton on Sunday report is out of date. According to the objective Strategic Housing Market Assessment the calculation of this percentage of affordable housing is based on 2011 housing benefit levels, 2011 house prices, and 2011 mortgage lending criteria. The percentage affordable housing if calculated on 2015 figures would be less than 30% and probably as low as 10%.
On examining Central Bedfordshire Council’s Affordable Housing Policy it is clear it is not a policy at all. If an up to date Strategic Housing Market Assessment were produced with a 10% affordable housing requirement or a developer’s assessment claimed a 30% affordable housing requirement was no longer economically viable then the Council’s policy is not to intervene to ensure its 30% affordable housing policy requirement is met.
The Council’s statements that jobs, schools, open spaces and community facilities, for example, NHS health centres will be provided are unlikely to be realised. Only the Government can provide NHS health centres and schools as Council’s are no longer responsible for providing them and employers provide jobs, not Councils or builders of warehouses like Prologis.
Developers’ are also well practiced in reneging on their Section 106 agreements. Recently Bedford Borough lost 200 desperately needed affordable homes; the Borough Council reduced the energy efficiency standards of future homes and the number of community facilities because developer David Wilson Homes said it was no longer economically viable to provide them on its green field development site at Wooten.