Village housing scheme criticised by police on grounds of security

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Plans for 58 new homes have been criticised by police who say the development’s layout will encourage criminal activity.

Bovis Homes has drawn up proposals for new houses on land at Hall End Road in Wootton. It will include 17 affordable units.

But it has attracted opposition from Beds Police, the Environment Agency and neighbours.

In a written objection to Bedford Borough Council, the police architectural liaison officer said: “The proposed layout will most certainly undermine community safety.”

He said there are too many through roads, which research shows makes it easier for crooks to operate.

He writes: “It is highly unlikely that this development will, in the absence of suitable revisions, receive anywhere near the level of police resources commensurate with the avoidably high level of demand which is being ‘designed in’.

“Whilst there is no objection in principle to this development, Bedfordshire Police object to the indicated proposal, on account of the avoidably high levels of victimisation which can reasonably be anticipated.”

A petition against the planning application, due to be considered by the borough council’s planning committee on Monday, March 23, has been signed by 250 potential neighbours.

Peter Bennett, 56, of Studley Road which backs onto the site, said: “There is a strong sense of dissatisfaction with the plans as they are presented at the moment.

“We are trying to make as much noise as we can to get the council to turn down this set of plans, which will make the builders go back and rethink to produce a more fair plan.”

He said objections have been raised on the grounds of flooding, road safety fopr schoolchildren and the impact on the local infrastructure.

A Bovis Homes spokesman said: “We have worked extremely closely with Bedford Borough Council planning department in drawing up this design, incorporating feedback wherever possible from the public consultation events held prior to submission and including the views of the police liaison Officer. We are required by council policy to include the footpath link to the north easterly boundary, but we will be including special security specification to all the homes within the development. In fact, the footway link between the development and adjoining housing with Wootton Upper School offers a ‘Safer Walking Route’ for schoolchildren.

“There will be affordable housing available, as well as public areas of open space and play, a balancing pond to mitigate flood risk and a significant financial contribution to the community as part of the planning agreement. We will also be allocating one hectare of land to the school to allow for their expansion.”