'Horrible cramped' affordable housing scheme in Arlesey refused

But the scheme is destined for an appeal

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 5th August 2022, 6:00 pm

Plans for 20 affordable homes on land off Cricketers Road in Arlesey have been refused, but will be subject to appeal for not being considered in time by the local authority.

Grand Union Housing Group’s scheme was described as “horrible cramped housing” by Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive member for regeneration and planning Kevin Collins.

The project would consist of eight social rent properties and 12 under shared ownership on one-and-a-half acres of rough grassland with trees and shrubs.

Central Beds Council

It would be a mix of terraced, semi-detached and detached houses with access to the site from Cricketers Road.

A date has yet to be fixed for the appeal. The application was determined by CBC’s development management committee, which is obliged to resolve it, on Wednesday. (August 3)

Arlesey Town Council raised a number of objections, including this being “premature before the delivery of the relief road, with which it should connect”.

This site is allocated for development under CBC site allocations dating back to 2011, according to a report to councillors.

While recognising the social and economic benefits of the scheme, the report explained it “wouldn’t accord with the development plan”.

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The recommended reasons for refusal “relate to the poor quality layout and conflict with the Arlesey Cross master plan, the impact on neighbouring properties and the poor living environment for future residents”.

There would be “insufficient provision for protected species, surface water and foul drainage and a lack of legal agreement to secure planning obligations to mitigate the impact on the surrounding infrastructure”.

With land adjoining the site to the north and west, it “forms part of a strategic allocation for a mixed use development comprising a minimum of 1,000 homes and 24.5 acres of employment land”, added the report.

“The applicant was advised during the early stages of various concerns with the proposals, including the conflict with the Arlesey Cross master plan.”

Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker asked why the development was non-determined.

Planning officer Ben Tracy replied: “The applicant requested not to determine the application and wait for the appeal on the adjacent site before the council proceeds to determine it.

“The agent and the applicant decided to lodge a non-determination appeal, without notifying the (local) authority, prior to the appeal decision being issued. It was delayed on the request of the applicant.”

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young said: “We find ourselves in a position where 20 valuable affordable homes aren’t coming forward.

“If they’re as bad as it says in paragraph two of the report that would be right and proper.”

Conservative Caddington councillor Collins inquired about the local authority’s legal position and enforcement powers “if we were to permission these horrible cramped houses and then they (the developer) sold them”.

Mr Tracy said: “In the absence of a signed legal agreement we’re unable to secure the affordable housing. We can change the wording to say provision in perpetuity.”

The committee unanimously refused the development, with that resolution forming the basis of CBC’s defence case at the appeal.