Central Bedfordshire Local Plan could create a 'ghetto' in Biggleswade says councillor
"Nobody was taking a holistic view of Biggleswade when they were putting this Local Plan together"
The west of Biggleswade is in danger of “becoming a ghetto where nobody wants to live” under a planning blueprint for the area, a meeting heard.
The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015 –2035 was approved for adoption after meetings of the local authority’s executive and full council on Thursday (July 22).
An adoption notice has been issued by Central Bedfordshire Council saying all the main modifications have been incorporated into the adopted Local Plan and policies map.
Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker told the full council meeting: “I’d love to like this local plan and think of it as a fantastic thing, but the impact on Biggleswade is going to be huge.
“It’ll more or less double the size of the town over time, yet we’re not improving the local infrastructure at anywhere near the same pace,” she warned.
“My residents might not object to building new homes, up to 10,000 on land east (of the town), but they would object if we don’t improve the facilities available to them.
“We’ve been talking about a splash park for Biggleswade since before I became a councillor and it seems to have died in the water.
“So we’re building all these homes and not providing anything more for our young people to do.
“While all this happens and the growth to the east proposed, the west of Biggleswade is being ignored.
“There’s severe under investment for that side of the town and all monies are being focused to the east,” she explained.
“My concern is the west of Biggleswade will become a ghetto where nobody wants to live because everyone wants to live in the new houses in the east.
“So nobody was taking a holistic view of Biggleswade when they were putting this Local Plan together.”
Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey likened the document to the curate’s egg, saying: “It might be good in parts, but it’s rotten as a whole.”
Conservative deputy council leader and Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark said: “It’s extremely important we’ve an adopted up-to-date Local Plan with clear policies to guide and control development, and to protect the environment in Central Bedfordshire.
“There’s a great deal of pressure to build here. As well as allocating sites for development, this document will help us resist hostile applications.
“It’s important to acknowledge that some of our residents will be dismayed and disappointed that sites they hoped might fall away are included.
“It’s the principle of development which is established, not the planning permission.
“I know for some these decisions will mean a real change in character and the nature of where they live, and they’ll feel sad about that,” she added.
“It’s incumbent on us, this council, to show robustly to our residents that development will be delivered which is really good quality, well serviced and with the timely delivery of the necessary infrastructure.
“We must ensure we use policies in this Local Plan, its aims and aspirations, to bring this forward and make it reality.”