CPRE Bedfordshire claims Council's plan has a 'massive surplus' of new homes Image: ceebeestock AdobeStock_207781879

CPRE Bedfordshire: “surplus is equivalent to a village the size of Sharnbrook”

Following demands from CPRE Bedfordshire at the Public Examination of its Local Plan, Bedford Borough Council has released the latest update of its Forward Housing Trajectory for the full Local Plan period to 2030.

CPRE Bedfordshire said that this shows a surplus (or contingency) of over 1,000 houses in their Local Plan.

The campaign group says that this surplus is equivalent to a village the size of Sharnbrook or Oakley and is “quite unacceptable”. A spokesperson from CPRE Bedfordshire said:

“It is recognised that our country is facing the catastrophe of massive biodiversity loss due in part, to overdevelopment – the concreting over of our countryside.

“For BBC to hold a contingency of 1,000 homes is quite unacceptable. The allocation of new homes to the Key Service Villages will be built entirely on Greenfield sites in open countryside.”

CPRE Bedfordshire Table highlighting BBC surplus Image: supplied by CPRE Bedfordshire

CPRE Bedfordshire is calling on Bedford’s Mayor to use this contingency to reduce the number of new homes allocated to the Key Service Villages.

The campaign group says that the 500 new homes that both Sharnbrook and Great Barford are required to take under the new Local Plan proposals represents a 50% increase in the size of each of these villages.

CPRE Bedfordshire has challenged the Mayor to match his words on Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss with actions.

A Borough Council spokesperson said:

“The contingency is less than 7% of the Plan’s total housing requirement, which is not excessive in strategic planning terms over a 15 year period, and is required if the Plan is to withstand challenge from the development industry.

“If the Plan was to fail to withstand challenge and was rejected by the Inspectorate, as has happened elsewhere, we could end up with totally unsuitable sites liable to be built upon.

“Ultimately the Inspectorate will make a judgement on the Local Plan 2030 as a whole, and should they find that the amount of land identified for development is inappropriate they are able to recommend that the Plan is changed.”

The Government’s Planning Inspectorate is currently examining Bedford Borough Council’s Local Plan 2030. This plan requires that 14,550 new homes are planned for and built between 2015 and 2030.

Bedford Borough Council says that it is usual for Local Plans to include a contingency in case not all sites identified for development are built, or built within the timescale envisaged.