A Lidlington villager has placed a funeral tribute outside a council meeting, to mark what she saw as the end of village life.
Central Bedfordshire Council was in the village to consult on its Local Plan, specifically plans to build 5000 new houses in the area.
Lidlington, a village of around 550 houses, will see 25% of the 20,000 new houses the council says it needs over the next 20 years.
Villager Rebecca Turner said:
“Central Beds Council claim that they will create four new villages with meaningful ‘green gaps’ between them, but with barely a mile between us and the neighbouring villages currently, this just isn’t possible and our lovely village will become an urban sprawl.”
The meeting in Lidlington was part of the Local Plan’s consultation period. The council said that thousands of people had their say during a similar consultation of the draft local plan during the summer.
Plans keep the decisions local
The Plan is required as local authorities without an up-to-date plan could risk government intervention. This would result in a loss of control of the planning process, it might even mean building more new homes.
A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said:
“We need to build more homes for Central Bedfordshire residents and their children in the future. The Local Plan outlines the strategy for ensuring the growth that we need is delivered in the right place, and is of the right character and quality over the next 20 years.”
The plan currently calls for building on 3% of Central Bedfordshire. According to the council this means that 85% of the area will still be countryside.
“The plan includes more open and green spaces, through turning into public use what has previously been private, farm land or inaccessible land.
“There will also be clear separation between existing towns and villages and the new developments, so they keep their own identities and rural character.”
The Lidlington Community Action Group doesn’t agree, it said:
“In reality, with 5000 houses on that amount of land – and a lot of it is a lake and some too hilly to build on cost effectively – there will be no real definition between the ‘villages’.
“It will really end up similar to MK – estates divided up with token green space.
“There is really no way that coalescence between Lidlington, Brogborough, Marston and the 4 new ‘villages’ can be avoided.”
The Action Group does recognise the need for more housing in the area, suggesting that 2,500 of the new houses are built on the Aspley Guise ‘triangle’.
The current consultation lasts until 22 February 2018. The council denies that this is a ‘done deal’ or a ‘tick-box’ exercise. The council spokesperson said:
“We are actively encouraging people to have their say via the consultation, after which we will collate and analyse all of the comments we receive and these will be forwarded to the independent planning inspector alongside the Local Plan when the Plan is submitted to the Secretary of State.
“There will then be a Public Examination to consider the Plan.”