Bedford Borough’s villages could be ‘overwhelmed’ by new housing estates after plans for a new town in the north of the Borough collapsed.
Mayor Dave Hodgson announced in January his backing for a new ‘Garden Village’ on a greenfield site at Colworth, adjacent to Sharnbrook and Souldrop, to underpin the Council’s Local Plan to provide 8000 new homes to the year 2035. The Colworth development was earmarked to provide 2500 dwellings in this period, rising to 4500 thereafter.
It is now clear that the Garden Village is not currently viable after the site promotors failed to reach an agreement over noise mitigations with the owners of nearby Santa Pod Raceway. This means that the Mayor will be forced to re-consider his approach, including alternative sites.
The Council’s Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Stephen Moon, has hit out at the Mayor’s ‘botched’ strategy. He said:
‘It is remarkable that Mayor Hodgson staked the Local Plan on the Colworth site despite its many uncertainties. It should never have been chosen given its siting on greenfield land and the obvious burden on a road network already suffering from chronic congestion. The loss of these houses now raises the question of where they should be allocated. There is a clear possibility that our villages could be overwhelmed with new housing unless the Mayor shortens the Plan period.
‘The principle of meeting the necessary demand for houses by dotting estates around the Borough on greenfield sites was always a fundamental mistake. The Mayor should have adopted a strategic approach prioritising brownfield sites and addressing the pressures that will come with the proposed Oxford – Cambridge Arc. The Mayor has botched this process and put at risk the future prosperity of Bedford.’