Developer bids to change permission

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A village facing a 371-home development fears it will lose any community benefits as the developer seeks to change the planning permission.

Building work at Cranfield was halted after the initial drainage and roads were installed and just one house completed.

But in order to restart construction, builder Persimmon Homes is seeking to change conditions of the 2007 planning approval to increase the number of homes needing to be built before it has to provide the community benefits.

Currently, after 50 homes are built, it should provide land for a school playing field and pre-school. The new application also seeks to re-route a footpath linking the new homes to the village.

The site is co-owned by Persimmon, Denison Investments and Cranfield charity The Goodman Trust.

Persimmon says the new application will allow them to complete development on the 70 per cent of land they own, claiming it cannot deliver the benefits outlined in the original agreement as it does not own the part of the site earmarked for them.

Villager Gerry O’Mara has been involved with the scheme and runs a website ( to provide information about the development.

He said the new application could save Persimmon about £6 or £7million pounds as the firm could stop building at 199 homes, removing any obligation to buy the land from the other owners, or pay for any of the facilities.

He said: “Once they’ve built 200 homes, if they don’t buy the remaining land they could only build a further 47. What’s to stop them building 199 homes and walking away? The profit on 47 homes wouldn’t cover their obligations.”

Denison Investments director Steven Smith said: “There is nothing commercially wrong with the planning permission as it stands.

“We’re working hard with the village to ensure they get the package they always understood they would get.”

Persimmon Homes Midlands deputy managing director Judith Potter said: “Notwithstanding the variations being sought, if we are able to proceed, the village would benefit from many new affordable homes (28 per cent of the total), open spaces and play areas, as well as financial contributions totalling more than £430,000, to be paid to the council prior to the occupation of the 50th home.”

“Persimmon Homes remains committed to delivering much-needed sustainable new homes, community facilities and open space at Cranfield and we welcome the opportunity to re-engage with the council and community to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the current situation.”

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman confirmed the application is under consideration. Comments should be submitted before February 28.