Local countryside champion CPRE Bedfordshire is warning that villages could see a free-for-all in house building on green fields as developers take advantage of Central Bedfordshire having no Development Strategy.

In recent months, Cranfield, Langford, Houghton Conquest and Shefford have all fallen prey to speculative developers, who have been given permission to build hundreds of dwellings on the edge of their settlements.

Last month plans for a development west of Sandy between the River Ivel and A1 were put forward that includes over 200 dwellings and 15,000 sq ft of office space. Without a Development Strategy to demonstrate that the council has a five-year’s supply of housing land, Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) will have very few grounds on which to refuse it.

Although the Council had originally refused the applications for 110 dwellings in Langford and 140 dwellings in Shefford, the developers won their cases on Appeal, with the lack of an up-to-date Development Strategy given as a key reason in both cases. Since then CBC has approved developments of 230 dwellings in Cranfield and 125 homes in Houghton Conquest.

The Council has a duty to produce a Development Strategy for Central Bedfordshire, demonstrating a planned approach to meeting its future housing needs, including a five year supply of deliverable housing land. Without this the Council has little grounds with which to refuse planning permission for housing developments.

Earlier this year, Central Bedfordshire Council failed to get its Development Strategy approved by a Government Planning Inspector and last month issued a statement that it plans to withdraw it following an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a Judicial Review aimed at overturning the Inspector’s decision.

A spokesperson for CPRE Bedfordshire said: “Central Bedfordshire Council has failed in its duty to provide a Development Strategy for the area. We fear that this will open the floodgates for speculative developers to build hundreds of houses on the edge of local villages. The Council is now in a very weakened position with very few grounds to stop these.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In recent months, permission for up to 605 homes has been given in the following Central Bedfordshire settlements. These are:
  2. Langford (CB/14/00186/OUT) –  Application by Gladman developments for up to 110 houses – Appeal against refusal allowed 29/06/2015
  3. Shefford (CB/14/01726/OUT) –  Application by Catesby Estates for up to 140 houses –  Appeal against refusal allowed 2/9/2015
  4. Cranfield, Mill Road (CB/14/05007/OUT) – Application by Gladman Developments for up to 230 houses – Application granted by CBC’s Development Management Committee (DMC) 16/9/2015
  5. Houghton Conquest, Chapel End Road (CB/15/01362/OUT) – Application by Gladman Developments for up to 125 houses –  Application granted by DMC 16/9/2015
  6. Applications for an additional 200 homes west of Sandy and 50 in Houghton Conquest are currently with the Council:
  7. CB/15/03937/OUT  Land West of Sandy between A1 and River Ivel, Noth of Girtford Bridge – Outline planning application on the Land West of Sandy (Girtford Bridge) for up to 216 residential dwellings, 8 self build plots, 138-bed Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and approximately 15,000sqft B1 (Office) development with all matters reserved, except access.
  8. Houghton Conquest, Bedford Road (CB/15/03706/OUT).  Application by Templeview Developments for up to 52 houses, currently under Consultation.    Consultation closes 3/11/2015.
  9. On the Council’s websites 7/10/15: “At the Council’s Executive Meeting on 6 October 2015, Members agreed to recommend to Full Council (19 November 2015) that the Development Strategy be withdrawn and to discontinue legal proceedings. Members noted that work would begin immediately on a new Local Plan.”