Plea to save planned cricket pitch as Wixams planning agreements are renegotiated

An application to reallocate funding has been submitted - and is out for consultation

Friday, 5th November 2021, 10:55 am

A plea to save a proposed cricket pitch was made to council officers re-negotiating planning agreements to provide additional education funding for Wixams.

Councillor Ken Matthews (Conservative, Central Bedfordshire Council) told the Wixams Joint Development Control Committee (Tuesday, November 2) that two years ago it was recognised that there was a shortfall in education funding, and the section 106 agreements were re-examined to try to establish whether money could be found from elsewhere.

A section 106 agreement is an agreement between a developer and a local planning authority about measures the developer must take to reduce their development's impact on the community.

A cricket pitch is included in the 106 agreement

Debbie Quinn, principal planning officer at Central Bedfordshire Council said: "An application to modify the section 106 has been received - that application seeks to secure the Village 3 site and release the Village 4 site and reallocate some funding, retain the Health Centre site, etc.

"That application was received early in October, it is out for consultation at the moment. We are in the process of writing to every house in Wixams.

"We've opened the consultation period to December 3 to make sure that everyone has time to look at it," she said.

Councillor Graeme Coombes (Conservative, Bedford Borough Council) noted that the proposal seeks to alter the provisions of the health centre site as requested by the Clinical Commissioning Group.

"I know that the health centre has been a long, drawn-out thing and I know from conversations with Jonathan [Warner, principal planner at Bedford Borough Council] previously how long has it gone on.

"What specifically is being altered with regard to the health centre?" he asked.

Ms Quinn replied that the original section 106 reserved a two-acre site, but no funding.

"The CCG said we don't need two acres, but we do need some money.

"So they've asked that the site is reduced in size and a financial contribution be made [instead]," she said.

Councillor Coombes said that the proposal also seeks to restructure the community and leisure facilities strategy.

"I am aware that this will come back to this committee as a report," he said.

"But I'd like to place on record that I hope the cricket pitch that was proposed will be retained. As a huge cricket fan I'm very very reluctant to see that negotiated away.

"I know that when we had section 106 restructuring last time, we did lose a number of facilities and it was quite concerning moving further and further away from the Wixams Master-plan.

"Obviously education is important, and it's right that we get the funding for that what. I would just like to place on record is that I want to see the cricket pitch retained and I hope officers will bear that in mind when they go into discussions, please," he said.

Ms Quinn said: "Hopefully, it will reassure you that at no point has it ever been suggested that the cricket pitch be removed by any party.

"And we strongly suspect that Sport England would not permit that, so I don't think that's likely to happen."