Councillor forced to remove Facebook post after releasing details of 180-home plan for Cranfield too early

The agenda for April 3’s planning meeting is set to be published on Friday
Access To Proposed Development Off Eight AcresAccess To Proposed Development Off Eight Acres
Access To Proposed Development Off Eight Acres

An Independent Central Bedfordshire councillor has had to remove a social media post, after being too hasty in alerting residents to a planning application for up to 180 homes in Cranfield.

The housing project is recommended for approval, Independent Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Saverio Bongo revealed in his Facebook post.

Details of planning projects due to be considered by the local authority’s development management committee are available to councillors in advance. But their release into the public domain is permitted only after the relevant committee agenda has been published on its website.

Applicant Richborough Estates Limited’s proposals for land north of Braeburn Way and Unit C 187 High Street in Cranfield are due to be considered by the committee at its meeting next month.

The company submitted a hybrid application, part of which is outline for up to 180 properties, with open space, landscaping and other infrastructure, as well as full plans to demolish buildings and construct a new car park.

Councillor Bongo’s post on the Community of Cranfield Facebook page said: “This is a heads up as this planning application is scheduled to be debated and decided at the CBC development management committee on Wednesday 3rd April.

“We can make representation to challenge the reasons and arguments. This is the last chance members of the public can register to speak on this planning application. I will find out more information in the next few days.”

He also confirmed the application is recommended for approval by planning officers. The post was subsequently removed, but can reappear from tomorrow (Friday, March 22) when the committee agenda is published online.

The details are likely to have been obtained from a draft index clearly marked as ‘for the information of members only’, the local democracy reporting service understands.

These plans will be debated by the committee because Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Robert Morris has called in the application.

Information about the scheme would be available to the public via CBC’s website planning portal, once the application has been entered online, so its earlier than planned release publically is insufficient to warrant a formal apology.

Councillor Morris said the allocation “isn’t in the CBC Local Plan, and there would be a loss of amenity to residents in Eight Acres, Harcourt and High Street” in the village.

“It would create a dangerous exit on to High Street and result in more traffic going past the Cranfield Academy lower school, while the site is in the last bit of countryside between the village and the airport.”

A planning statement by RPS Consulting Services Limited, on behalf of the applicant, explained: “The proposed development is in a sustainable settlement, adjacent to recently approved projects to the north of the village.

“The application is supported by a range of technical work showing the acceptability of the plans in respect of landscape impact, transport, ecology, flood risk and noise.

“This builds upon the current footpath links and green infrastructure contained within the site to provide good connectivity with the wider countryside.”