More than 600 residents have expressed shock over plans to build thousands of new houses in north Bedford. The proposals, announced in the Mayor of Bedford’s Local Plan on January 2, would see the building of 4,500 houses near Lee Farm in Sharnbrook, generating thousands of extra car journeys every day, say objectors.
They claim the plans are being rushed through at a meeting of Bedford Borough Council’s Executive next Wednesday, January 10, with many residents complaining that they have not been properly consulted.
Posting on the Keep North Beds Green Facebook page, Bill Welsh said: “Consultation with local people is a sham. The Green Belt, which the Conservatives promised to defend, is being wrecked. The damage to the countryside is irreparable. It is a disaster.”
Another resident, Eileen Ferguson Smith, commented: “I can’t begin to imagine how much more difficult it would be to get into Bedford if this went ahead.”
Since its launch three weeks ago, Keep North Beds Green has received an outpouring of support from the local community – with over 600 residents registering their opposition to building on green land in North Beds via the campaign website (http://www.keepnorthbedsgreen.org/).
Speaking on behalf of the Keep North Beds Green campaign, Baroness Young of Old Scone, who lives in North Bedfordshire, said: “Not only does this plan involve concreting over hundreds of hectares of green-field countryside, but will add thousands of traffic movements everyday onto local roads which are already congested and simply blocked at peak hours.
“Keep North Beds Green recognises that more homes are needed, but they should be the right homes in the right place – on brownfield sites with good road and rail connections. There are better sites emerging in the South of the Borough with these transport links, but they haven’t featured in the plan.
“A development of this magnitude, on open green land, will completely change the face of Bedford and its surrounding countryside. We urge all local residents to register support for our campaign before Bedford Borough Council’s Executive makes its decision on January.”
Councillor Alison Foster, the councillor for Harrold Ward (which comprises the villages of Harrold, Carlton, Odell, Podington, Wymington, Hinwick and Farndish) said: “Building thousands of new houses in an area where infrastructure is already stretched shows a real short-sightedness from the Mayor.
“The thousands of additional car journeys taking place during peak traffic periods every day will make a bad situation even worse. This is simply not the right plan for Bedford.
“The recent National Infrastructure Commission report indicates that all such new development should be along the Oxford/Cambridge arc. The A6 is nowhere near the Oxford/Cambridge arc. Dave Hodgson has made a terrible error in pursuing development on green land to the north of Bedford over brownfield sites to the south.”
A borough council spokesperson said: “The council is required by Government to meet an ‘Objectively Assessed Need’ for housing in the Borough through the Local Plan and, following several public consultations over recent years, a set of detailed proposals have been prepared.
“Subject to approval at next week’s Executive, the draft plan will then be subject to the fifth round of public consultation, after which it will be considered by the Full Council.”