Yesterday (8 June 2021) saw the first sessions for the appeal against Central Bedfordshire Council’s refusal by delegated decision for the building of up to 180 dwellings and open spaces on land to the north of Braeburn Way.
Speaking at the appeal, Cllr Sue Clark, a ward councillor for Cranfield and Marston Moretaine, said that since 2011, Cranfield has had 880 homes commissioned, with around 130 still to be built.
She added that 300 of these were ‘unplanned’ and were granted planning as Central Bedfordshire Council could not demonstrate a five year land supply. Cllr Clark said that the Council can now demonstrate five-year housing supply, and its Local Plan is nearing completion.
“Why would a local authority, that is not under pressure for sites, choose an area right next to an airfield, when the owners of the airfield have aspirations and planning permission to expand its activities and hours of operation considerably?”
“There is a high level of public interest in this planning appeal. 179 objections were received for the original plan application out of 180 and 74 objections out of 76 for the access of Harcourt.
“I’d also like to remind the participants that two residents of Willow Green, Alex Pritchard and Hayley Laskey, wrote a really first class piece of work outlining the residents concerns and 207 residents of Willow Green Residents close signed up to that.”
Cllr Clark said that in her experience as a ward councillor there is only community action and a high level of public engagement when there is a genuine issue involved.
“I would say that this is absolutely the case here and I’m sorry that this has to be a virtual meeting because it means that there cannot be individual members of the public in the room to physically show their interest in this but I know people are watching the web cast.”
In the opening statement for the Appellant Christopher Young QC said:
“Cranfield is a ‘Minor Service Centre’. It has a range of services and facilities, accessible to larger centres connected by a regular bus service.
“The settlement also contains Cranfield University and Technology Park, alongside the Airport. There is clear future capacity for growth without leading to significant adverse impacts on local infrastructure.”
Mr Young QC added that a capacity analysis demonstrated that the Flitt Leys Close junction with High Street operates with a significant amount of spare capacity in both the AM and PM peak hours.
“The development traffic impact during the school drop-off is low. The journey to work analysis demonstrates that more than 50% of the development traffic will have left the residential estate before traffic associated with the AM peak school drop-off period starts.
“The suggestion that there will be conflicts by the local authority will not occur to the extent that they suggest. Additional traffic during the AM peak is equivalent to less than one vehicle per minute in either direction.
“I know local people get emotive about this, I know people get concerned, I know that local councillors have to be the vehicle for that concern. But really, this is an absolute storm in a teacup.
“The Appellant is strongly of the view that this proposal can assist in the delivery of much needed housing growth, within an inherently sustainable location.”
The appeal is expected to last up to nine days and can be viewed via a livestream on YouTube.