Bedford Local Plan falls through as disagreement with raceway means plan is no longer ‘sound’

A lack of agreement over noise mitigation measures at Santa Pod Raceway has scuppered the current Local Plan
A lack of agreement over noise mitigation measures at Santa Pod Raceway has scuppered the current Local Plan

A noisy raceway appears to have dealt a hammer blow to Bedford’s Local Plan - because the document will no longer be ‘sound’.

The plan’s aim was to set out how much growth there should be in the borough up to 2035, including housing and associated infrastructure.

But a key part of the plan has met with problems - the new Colworth Garden Village. Located in the north of the borough near Santa Pod raceway, it is earmarked for 2,500 homes.

But the scheme’s viability depends on agreements between the site’s promoter and the operator of the Santa Pod raceway, Trakbak Racing Ltd, to introduce noise mitigation measures.

And the council papers reveal that the raceway’s operator is unwilling to support the proposals - throwing the plan as it stands into doubt.

The report from Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for community safety and regulatory services, and chief officer of planning and highways Jon Shortland, also indicates that the situation is currently unlikely to take a turn for the better.

The report states: “Without agreement to the delivery of mitigation on the Santa Pod site there is currently no evidence that this can be achieved; the policy cannot be delivered as set out and therefore the plan as drafted is not ‘sound’.

“There is no suggestion that this position will change in the short term which is significant and explains why it is now necessary to amend the plan before it is submitted for examination.

“Whatever changes are introduced to make the plan ’sound’ they will be main rather than minor changes and therefore, the plan must be republished so that those with an interest have the opportunity to make representation.”

More than 3,200 responses were registered during a previous consultation between January and March.

It’s understood that council officers are now considering changing the timescale covered by the plan - currently up to 2035 - to reduce the number of dwellings that need to be allocated.

The council’s executive agreed to defer sending the plan to the Secretary of State until it is changed, and a second period of consultation is undertaken. The council is understood to be aiming to do this in September.