‘It’s time CBC fought back over planners’

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A village campaign group has called on Central Bedfordshire Council to put up “a robust defence” against speculative housing plans by developers.

The plea was made as councillors considered plans for 22 homes on land off Hitchin Lane in Clifton.

JC Gill Developments Limited’s proposals to develop 3.3 acres of fields were approved at a meeting of the council’s development management committee.

Roger Manning, for the Clifton Action Group, said: “The countryside gap between Clifton and Henlow must be protected.

“To ignore these (planning) policies is tantamount to lowering the drawbridge raising the portcullis, and inviting developers in to do as they please.

“Surely the time has come for CBC to put up a robust defence against these developers.”

Mr Manning also expressed concern about the highways issues if the scheme went ahead.

Ray Dart, who chairs Clifton Parish Council, said it has recommended 49 new houses in the village plus 216 for other developments, adding 265 to a village of 1,450 homes.

“The access is via a narrow residential road or a rat run on a new development between New Road and Hitchin Lane ... dangerous,” he warned.

“We don’t have infrastructure for developments already planned. Schools are beyond capacity. The health centre cannot cope.

“This development meets no economic needs. Houses are not selling.

“Six remain unsold from one project nearly two years after completion.”

Cllr Nigel Young said he was inclined to agree the scheme, with some reluctance.

Councillors approved the plans by eight votes to three, with one abstention.