"Poor" housing scheme on "abysmal" site in Langford approved despite objections over flooding

An aerial view of the floodingAn aerial view of the flooding
An aerial view of the flooding
The council had previously refused the plans – but decided not to contest the developer’s appeal

A “poorly designed” housing scheme on an “abysmal site” in Langford is set to be completed, despite opposition from residents already annoyed by flooding from the site.

The controversial project on a seven-and-a-half acre arable field was initially rejected by Central Bedfordshire Council, which then decided not to contest a subsequent appeal to the fury of residents and councillors.

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Applicant Crest Nicholson Chiltern resubmitted full plans for 79 homes, with an access, parking, public open space and landscaping on land south of Cambridge Road near Cambridge Close.

Senior planning officer Tom Mead told the local authority’s development management committee the Lewin Park scheme is the second phase of a site allocated for housing in CBC’s Local Plan.

Outline planning permission was granted for up to 150 homes, with 82 approved in phase one. A further 79 properties would exceed the outline consent by 11.

John Shipman, who chairs Langford Parish Council, said it was “unable to support the application, as it doesn’t comply with policies in CBC’s Local Plan or the village’s neighbourhood plan”.

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Significant flooding issues on this site would require pumping 24 hours a day seven days a week, he warned.

“The attenuation ponds should be investigated to understand why there’s a continuous flow of surface and even groundwater in dry weather which keep these full. These ponds could contain water from a spring or aquifer.

Conservative Clifton, Henlow and Langford councillor Drew Richardson labelled the current site “abysmal”, saying: “Having multiple tankers a day shipping out the water is worrying and not environmentally friendly.

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“The development as a whole is a poor design. The housing mix doesn’t contain any bungalows, as required by the community.”

Conservative Clifton, Henlow and Langford councillor Richard Wenham criticised the “appalling decision of CBC not to contest the appeal”, asking “what controls the council has if the pump fails to address the drainage issues?”

Planning consultant for the applicant Marcus Lambert said: “The council has written to the planning inspectorate confirming it’s not intending to defend the reasons for refusal and inviting an inspector to allow the appeal.

“This resubmission seeks approval to allow the appeal to fall away, saving CBC and the applicant time, effort and expense.

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“Amended drawings were submitted to ensure the affordable one-bedroom flats all have correct levels of private amenity space, which was an oversight originally for which I apologise.

“Although surface water concerns weren’t a reason for refusal, the pumping station is scheduled to be operational by April 15th and will reduce the attenuation basin level considerably. There’s a technical solution to this.

“Anglian Water and the sustainable drainage systems officer are satisfied by the restrictive conditions. My client will ensure all drainage matters are resolved and in place before the start of phase two.”

Councillors approved the plans with seven votes in favour, one against and three abstentions.