Biggleswade neighbourhood plan is making 'good progress'

The town council is hoping to submit the plan to Central Beds Council this autumn

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:02 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 3:20 pm

What began as "a massive headache" in creating a neighbourhood plan for Biggleswade is now making "good progress", a meeting heard.

A Neighbourhood Plan allows a community to play a more prominent role in its future, according to the town council website.

"It gives the power to create a shared vision and policies that will shape the development and growth of the area."

A neighbourhood plan for Biggleswade is being created

Once adopted, the plan's policies would be used to decide on future planning applications for Biggleswade, alongside the Central Bedfordshire Council Local Plan.

"We're making very good progress," town clerk Peter Tarrant told CBC's Biggleswade joint committee.

"I'm delighted to advise the draft plan went to our strategy group on Wednesday," (July 14) he said.

"Members for the first time had the chance to challenge and critique the detail.

"We listened to those conversations and adapted the plan, which went to Central Bedfordshire Council for screening the following day. (Thursday, July 15)

"We'll look to go to council at the end of August to share the document and some extra details more broadly with the other town councillors.

"The strategy group is leading on this and is mandated to lead on this, but we're also aware of having a wider conversation.

"The aim is to invite comments from the community in September. This will be a six-week consultation and then we'll deal with the responses."

Mr Tarrant asked for advice about when the CBC Local Plan is likely to be adopted.

"That would help in regard to our planning," he explained. "We're looking for proper submission to Central Bedfordshire probably at the end of October, beginning of November.

"That feeds into independent examination in January 2022 and then the final part is a referendum on or around May 2022.

"For me, this has been a massive headache in the sense of we needed to get something down on paper.

"That different approach with a defined project manager and some clear direction from chairman councillor Madeline Russell has enabled us to turn a corner on this."

Conservative Stotfold and Langford Central Bedfordshire councillor Steve Dixon said: "We have a special executive committee on Thursday (July 22) to consider that item.

"The last I heard the Local Plan was with the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government.

"I believe the Secretary of State has 48 hours to sign it off. I'm as hopeful and as confident as I can be.

"But until something physically lands in the building I can't guarantee anything. It will make a huge difference to everyone in Central Bedfordshire."

Mayor Madeline Russell said: "When you see the first draft of the Local Plan, it's formulaic as you might expect.

"You've got the relevant parts of the national planning policy framework, and those of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan. The neighbourhood plan can't contradict national or CBC policy.

"We've real issues with the highways layout on the King's Reach development. All sorts of things which have gone wrong there and keep coming up at town council.

"We can't really address them in the neighbourhood plan in the way we'd like to because we can't go against Central Bedfordshire's own highways codes."