CBC's Pre-Submission Local Plan to 2035

Central Beds final version of their Pre-Submission Local Plan has been online a couple of days. There's a lot of reading involved, and our CBC councillors will be discussing it at 3 meetings next week, so if they don't answer their phones in the meantime, there's the reason.

As well as 7,000 new houses around Houghton Regis that we know about, there will be 4,000 new houses for north of Luton that we kind of knew about, plus 1,500 new houses to enlarge Biggleswade, 2,000 new homes to the east of Arlesey, plus sundry other smaller allocations across Central Beds. Then there is the East-West rail from Oxford to Cambridge which will doubtless bring in its wake even more hundreds of thousands of homes.

Between all these developments they want to leave Important Countryside Gaps and Green Corridors, which is surely a blessing. We must have space for recreation, walking the dog and keeping fit, given how obese we've become as a nation.

Perhaps ominously, they also say, "Maximise potential opportunities for the intensification and redevelopment e.g. RAF Henlow and the regeneration of urban areas (Biggleswade, Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Flitwick, Leighton Linslade & Sandy) through town centre frameworks or masterplans." Intensification and redevelopment are in bold type. To me, that means 'use up odd spaces'.

We get our public say after the 3 meetings, from 11th January, assuming the consultation is approved by full Council on the 10th. If anyone wants to speak at that meeting email helen.bell@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk and DOWNLOAD the Agenda documents

After the consultation, CBC is obliged to pass the Local Plan to an independent Government planning inspector. He will review the comments made by the public and will also be checking CBC's figures.

Any comments on the draft plan will NOT be passed to the inspector so from the 11th, please make any comments in the final consultation.

You can read the final plan here

That's the bigger picture.

Locally, there are bits and pieces that struck me. - the main section on Houghton Regis starts on page 86 of the plan document.  A lot of the issues on this we've discussed in the Houghton Regis Planning Applications Facebook Group

The " intensification and redevelopment" mentioned above, could mean anything for Houghton Regis. Does it mean moving people out, knocking down some houses, building blocks of flats? Well, you can't move people out until you have somewhere for them to go, and go to in an orderly fashion, too. Some inner London suburbs have certainly been transformed this way. I don't think it need scare anyone, but it's a process that needs to be very hands-on with community leaders needed to take crucial roles in how it might be handled. Perhaps not a good idea to speculate more at this time.

Jobs are in this plan, too. With up to 24,000 supposed could be created, with a new employment hub around M1 J11a / Woodside Link being one of the main sites highlighted in the Plan.

SO 10 Transport section talks about "well planned routes and integrated public transport."  and "The Council will seek to: Reduce the need to travel by car"  - I wonder if that would that mean not cutting the subsidy to bus companies so people in roads like Windsor Drive and Bromley Gardens can get a bus to the hospital? And would that mean running new buses from HR to Leagrave station?

SO11 Environment section talks about  "Promote healthier and more active lifestyle".
So, how about some benches in places like Parkside Recreation ground? That would encourage those less mobile to get out more in the knowledge that there was somewhere to rest a bit. Simple thing, but could make a big difference.

SO13 Talks about reducing flood-risk.
So, how about proper preventative management to stop the rainwater gulley at the back of my house getting blocked up with leaves every year?

I'm sure you'll think of more examples of how far this CBC Plan will need to go to convince the current neighbourhoods that it is a plan that can be lived up to in practice.

'Land East of Houghton Regis' is mentioned for 355 homes, this is the Bellcross Homes land adjacent to Houghton Park Road and Conquest Road, although the last Scoping Report suggested a higher number than that.

The Potton councillor, Adam Zerny, has mentioned a few more things: