Cllr Wenham opens public hearing sessions for Central Bedfordshire Council's Local Plan

Plan “sets a realistic target for the delivery of new homes and jobs”

In his opening speech to the Public Examination of Central Bedfordshire Council‘s (CBC) Local Plan, Cllr Wenham said that the start of hearing sessions was a very significant day for the Council.

He added that it marked a milestone in the development of one of CBC’s most important policy developments.

“The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan is a positive strategy that will secure the successful delivery of sustainable communities, facilitate economic growth and will ensure that Central Bedfordshire continues to be a great place to live and work.”

Cllr Wenham said that CBC faces many challenges, such as a rapidly growing, aging and changing population:

“This Plan sets a realistic target for the delivery of new homes and jobs, in a way which will protect the intrinsic character of the area, by ensuring that growth comes in the most sustainable way.

“Getting this balance right is incredibly important to us and while the focus of the Examination will naturally be on the technical issues, around homes and jobs – for the Council; it is actually about people.”

The hearing was told that CBC’s focus was to ensure that existing communities benefited from the new growth that is coming so that:

  • Young people can live and work here
  • The ageing population have access to the homes and support they need
  • CBC protects the environment that makes this area special

As part of the process, Cllr Wenham said that CBC’s elected members had been actively involved in ensuring the needs and interests of our residents are understood and considered:

“Over and above the standard processes of submitting representations, we have worked hard to ensure that all the voices of Central Bedfordshire have been heard and are reflected in the development of this plan.

“This has been done in many ways, through our community planning workshops across the area; inviting local people to tell us their priorities and running targeted market research.”

Cllr Wenham admitted that the Local Plan cannot address everyone’s issues, which meant that the Council will often sit uncomfortably between those who think it is are going too far and those who think it is not going far enough.

“Our responsibility is to strike a balance, between sometimes competing objectives and we believe this Plan takes that balanced approach, to promoting sustainable growth, recognising what is valued in the area.”

CBC believes, that despite the opposing voices, the Local Plan will provide the certainty which all parties crave and it will ensure that growth in Central Beds is managed and delivered through a sustainable policy approach.

Cllr Wenham warned that the alternative would be unacceptable, and benefiting a few, not the majority, of existing or future residents.

He concluded by saying that CBC considers that the Local Plan provides a sound, positive, and progressive strategy for achieving sustainable development and delivers the needs of Central Bedfordshire and its neighbours.