James Dean comes to the rescue at Bedford Council planning impasse

A born and bred Bedfordian by the name of James Dean came to the rescue when the town’s Planning Committee couldn’t decide what to do about the proposed extensions at his family home.

Mr Dean, whose namesake is the 1950s Rebel Without a Cause Hollywood film star, had a purpose of his own when he appeared before the committee on Monday to ask councillors to approve his plans against the advice of their officers.

Brecon Way, Bedford

Brecon Way, Bedford

Mr Dean told the committee of nine councillors there are many other similar extensions in Brecon Way. Requesting that councillors visit the road, Mr Dean said: “I want more room for my family.”

He requested that councillors make a visit to the site to see for themselves.

But Cllr Anita Gerard, who chairs the committee, said a site visit would be difficult because of planning rules about who would be able to make a decision.

She said that only the members of the committee who had heard the arguments on Monday could make a decision after a site visit. She said the situation was unique in her 16 years on the committee.

But with six of the nine committee members not seeking re-election when the town goes to the polls on Thursday (May 2), there was the possibility of a maximum of only three people – possibly none – who could make the decision. The new committee is set to convene on May 20.

Cllr David Fletcher called the situation ‘outrageous’ and “not democracy”, while a frustrated Cllr Mark Smith said that “there must be a solution.”

The committee was told that they had three options, to refuse the plan, to give it permission, or to take the item off the agenda.

Mr Dean helped the committee out of its predicament by agreeing for the issue to be taken off the agenda.

Cllr Gerard, in her last meeting in the chair, apologised to Mr Dean for the delay in getting a decision made by the council.

He was told it could take until June for a decision to be made, if the newly constituted committee wishes to take a trip out to Brecon Way at it’s May meeting.

Mr Dean took a deep breath and left the room.