The number of new homes given by Central Bedfordshire Council's Local Plan is a minimum Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Local Plan’s growth strategy includes Luton’s unmet housing needs

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) is currently hosting a public examination of its Local Plan. This stage of the Plan’s examination will be held over five one-week sessions between 21 May and 26 July 2019.

The Local Plan says it will deliver 39,350 homes, and a minimum of 24,000 new jobs (Policy SP1) over the period 2015 to 2035. This number includes around 23,500 homes which are already planned for or have been built.

These new homes and jobs are to be delivered via a combination of strategic and small – medium scale allocations throughout Central Bedfordshire.

Strategic allocations will be made at various locations, including:

  • Marston Valley (New Villages) – 5,000 homes and 40ha employment land
  • M1 Junction 13 – Strategic Employment Area – 35ha

The Plan’s Inspectors wanted to know if the figure of 39,350 should be referred to as a minimum and asked how this number was derived.

CBC said that the housing requirement was assessed as a need for 32,000 homes in Central Bedfordshire, plus the balance of Luton’s unmet need of 7,350 homes from its local plan.

It added that at the Regulation 18 consultation stage, there was a range of potential growth scenarios with differing percentages of uplift.

“This gave a range of 42000 to 54000 homes.”

“At the Regulation 19 version of the plan it was determined that the most appropriate figure that we should plan for was the 39,350.

“This not only meets our assessed need over the period until 2035 but it also meets the lion’s share of the Luton unmet needs.”

CBC added that at a minimum it will meet the 39,350 figure, but it can demonstrate an excess in the supply of that target.

“We didn’t refer to the figure as a minimum as that potentially infers that, yes there is a minimum of 39350, but it could go all the way up to 50000.

“We wanted to provide residents and stakeholders with some certainty that while we would be delivering this figure as a bare minimum, we may exceed that figure.”

CPRE: Residents were consulted on 39,350 homes

The Bedfordshire chair for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Gerry Sansom, told the hearing that residents were consulted on the basis of 39,350 new homes.

“They weren’t consulted on 40,000 or 50,000 or a minimum of, they were consulted on 39,350.”

In addressing the Inspector, Matthew Birkinshaw, Gerry said as most people around the table were there to represent landowners, it might be easy to be under the impression that everyone is looking to increase the number of homes.

“CPRE Bedfordshire represents the people who couldn’t be here. We represent the parish and town councils who feel 39,350 homes is the maximum that we should be seeing in central Bedfordshire.

“I think it is very dangerous to think that everyone is happy to see an increase in 39,350.”

Matthew Birkinshaw said that all representations and not just those made around the table during the Hearings will be taken into account.

The Examination Hearing Programme is to run over five weeks:

  • 21-24 May 2019 – Week 1 hearing sessions
  • 11-14 June 2019 – Week 2 hearing sessions
  • 18-21 June 2019 – Week 3 hearing sessions
  • 16-19 July 2019 – Week 4 hearing sessions
  • 23-26 July 2019 – Week 5 hearing sessions

A date for the final ruling has not been set.

Visit the CBC website for more information on the Independent Examination of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan.