Questions, questions - find out what the planning inspector wants to know about Central Bedfordshire’s Local Plan

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Dates have been confirmed for the planning inquiry into the controversial Central Bedfordshire Local Plan.

The public inquiry will take place over 17 days between May 21 and July 18 at the council’s Priory House headquarters in Chicksands.

The dates scheduled are: May 21-24, June 11-14, June 18t-21 and July 16-18.

The majority of the schemes affecting areas in Chronicle country will be held in the second week.

The document would determine growth in Central Bedfordshire over the next 20 years, once approved which could see an extra 20,000 new homes and 24,000 new jobs.

Housing growth is due to be supported by infrastructure changes, with new strategic road and rail projects on the horizon.

CBC submitted its Local Plan for initial consideration by the inspector last summer.

The inspector, Mike Hayden, replied with concerns over key areas of future housing development and about getting agreements with neighbouring councils where necessary.

Mr Hayden wrote back to CBC in September suggesting some of the points have not been adequately addressed by the local authority.

He has subsequently stepped down for personal reasons to be replaced by two inspectors, Matthew Birkinshaw and Helen Hockenhull.

Biggleswade is one of the towns which is set for significant developments, including a village to the east of the town, if the Local Plan is approved in its current form.

It also includes new villages in Marston Vale, and hundreds of homes in towns and villages in other parts of the area.

And RAF Henlow could be turned into a mixed use development featuring a science and technology park.

The document will also consider its impact on the countryside and provision of open space and leisure facilities.

There was considerable opposition from residents and independent councillors. Central Bedfordshire Council said it received 6,275 comments during the public consultation.

The Local Plan must be approved by a government inspector before it can be formally adopted by the council.

The issues for examination are set out on the council’s website and will take into account the concerns of objectors where applicable.

There are also technical formalities to be agreed over the course of the inquiry.

Among the inspector’s initial questions is what is the justification for saying there is great potential for large scale growth around the A1 corridor which is shown by the allocation of a new village at East Biggleswade and an extension to Arlesey.

He also asks what is the justification for identifying a strategic location for future growth at Tempsford, rather than allocating the site for housing in this plan and what is the justification for the overallscale of growth proposed for Arlesey.

Other questions include:

>Land East of Biggleswade. What is the justification for allocating the site for up to 1,500 dwellings? What is this based on and are the mix of uses achievable across the site?

>How has the Council considered the cumulative impact of development with other committed housing schemes in and around Biggleswade?

>What is the justification for Policy SA4(1) which requires proposals for new development to be separate from Biggleswade? How will this be achieved?

>and if the proposed allocation is intended to be separate, will it be expected to provide its own shops, services and facilities, or rely on Biggleswade?

>What effect will the allocation have on the local and strategic highway network(s)?

>How has the proximity of the allocation to existing level crossings, and the implications for highway and pedestrian safety been taken into account?

>How has the Council considered the effect of the allocation on the character and appearance of the area, having particular regard to development extending beyond Baden Powell Way?

>What is the justification for requiring a parkland corridor and meet the aims and objectives of the ‘Biggleswade Green Wheel’?

>To find out more about the questions, and what other questions are being asked by the Inspector and how the hearings will be conducted, go to