Shed plan ‘has cost the borough millions’

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The decision to build 600 new homes in Cardington has cost the borough millions, it has been claimed.

The Bedford Campaign to Protect Rural England has calculated the deal is worth about £10million to the applicant, with council coffers missing out on at least £2.5million from the cash developers are obliged to give councils, known as Section 106 money.

According to CPRE the true figure cannot be known as key documents were kept secret during the planning application.

But the campaign group has come up with the £10million figure based on the application including a reduced S106 contribution, only 10 per cent of the development being affordable housing, which increases the development’s profit, and the increase in value of 32 hectares of open countryside.

The group also notes the figure coincides with an estimate of £9.7million to refurbish Shed 1, claiming “the council is effectively paying all costs for the renovation of the shed despite it being privately owned by a business.”.

CPRE vice chairman Gerry Sansom said: “The actions of Bedford Borough Council in shrouding this matter in secrecy is indefensible and not at all in the interest of residents.

“We do not believe that the release of land in open countryside for development is necessary to enable the refurbishment of the Shed.”

A council spokesperson said: “The committee believed that in addition to providing much needed new homes to meet the expected rise in population, the development would help to safeguard the future of Shed 1.

“An independent assessment of the viability of the development carried out by consultants acting for the council found the level of S106 funding and the percentage of affordable housing was sufficient to allow the development to proceed.”