Frustration at lack of dialogue with the council

Shefford ENGPNL00120140131165253
Shefford ENGPNL00120140131165253

A developer has expressed concerns that a decision over its plans to bring new homes and facilities to a town could be ‘undemocratic’.

Catesby Estates Ltd has recently submitted a planning application for a residential development on land adjacent to Campton and Ampthill Road in Shefford.

But it says it is concerned that local councillors may not get to decide whether the development is acceptable.

The plans include a substantial package of benefits, which it says should be considered at committee rather than a decision being made by planning officers via delegated powers. They include affordable housing, new sports pitches for community use and the provision of £1.4m of funding towards local community project. This is in addition to the requested S106 monies towards local infrastructure.

David Morris, Planning Director for Catesby Estates Ltd said: “We remain highly frustrated by the lack of dialogue with officers and councillors since the application has been submitted. The application has been met with a positive response from the local community and a substantial package of benefits has been included following pre-application feedback from the public and ward councillors.

“We do not understand why such a substantial application may not be heard by the planning committee, particularly as it has the support of local organisations such as Shefford Saints Football Club and the Bedfordshire East Schools Trust.”

He added: “The wishes of local people should be at the heart of every planning decision, making the decision not to have this application heard at a planning committee, by elected members, undemocratic.

“It is extremely disappointing that the level of support, at local level, and the benefits associated with this proposed development have been ignored by Central Bedfordshire’s planning department. It should always be the case that planning officers advise, but democratically-elected members decide.

“Should this application be refused by delegated powers, tax payers’ money has been put at risk through a costly appeal process if Government Inspectors find the officers’ decision is flawed.”

Central Beds Council was unable to comment before the Chronicle went to press.