Developer hopes to revise agreed contributions to the community as part of its 1,500 home development on land east of Biggleswade

The requested changes include a reduced education contribution

Friday, 24th September 2021, 11:48 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 11:50 am
Applicant UK Regeneration Limited’s outline proposals received planning permission in 2019

The developer of a 1,500 home plan on land east of Biggleswade is hoping to revise the agreed contributions to the community - including reduced education contribution.

Revised developer contributions should be minimal and justified with relevant evidence, a meeting heard.

Applicant UK Regeneration Limited’s outline proposals received planning permission in 2019 before being resubmitted last year for changes to the site access.

In agreeing this, Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee expected the Section 106 contributions to be honoured from the original scheme.

But a contribution towards the Lindsells crossing project can be dropped as CBC secured alternative funding, said a report to the committee.

The 263-acre site is linked to housing development in the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan.

It includes up to five acres of commercial development, 12.5 acres of primary school provision, ten acres of leisure and community proposals, and 150 acres of open space, allotments and a country park.

Planning officer Nik Smith explained: “When considering the application in November, the committee was explicit any Section 106 agreement should be at least materially the same as the first application in 2019.

“The applicant has subsequently approached the council to request the requirements of the Section 106 are revisited.

“A reduced education contribution is proposed and for the council to reconsider and justify a suite of other obligations.

“Officers don’t have delegated authority for the type of talks being requested by the applicant.

“The committee is being asked whether officers should or shouldn’t negotiate the heads of terms and whether a final set of these should be reported back to members.”

One large rather than two smaller primary schools should be provided, according to the applicant.

Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker said: “We were sold this utopia of an amazing amount of green open space. My concern is that’s not what we’re going to get.

“We’re just consulting on the Schools for the Future programme and the town needs the money for the schools. A shortfall of £11.5m is something this council would have to make up.”

Agent for the applicant Andrew Tildesley told the committee: “Today is a procedural matter.

“None of the contributions have been assessed or evidenced and no Section 106 talks with UK Regeneration have taken place,” he said.

“This process still needs to be concluded for a decision notice to be issued and to remove the risk of other parties seeking judicial review or legally challenge the council’s decision.

“Working with the council, UK Regeneration wants to provide the right level of contribution based on evidence and agreed with officers.”

Conservative Caddington councillor Kevin Collins referred to the “spirit of that original comment” for the Section 106 to be “substantially the same”, saying: “We would need to be persuaded by very good arguments why it’s significantly changed.

“We should be alive to the possibility, if we’re reviewing the basis behind line items and how they’ve been calculated, to not rule out the possibility some figures might have increased.”

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young suggested the need to avoid planning officers being “bogged down officers in lengthy negotiations”.

Conservative Biggleswade North councillor Ian Bond said: “The emphasis was on a high quality development. This has been promised as different to what’s being produced elsewhere around Biggleswade.

“If the contributions can’t be justified they should be renegotiated, otherwise you’re open to review. Both sides seem to want to sort this out and carry on.”

Councillors approved explaining the original amounts and commenting on revised proposals from the applicant, without detailed talks, and for the Section 106 outcomes to return to the committee.