Bedford Mayor’s New Housing Plan is ‘Catastrophic Failure’

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson has ‘ducked responsibility’ by shortening his revised Local Plan for housing to the year 2030.

In May, just weeks after launching the Local Plan 2035, the Mayor’s Liberal Democrat and Labour Executive’s preference for a new ‘Garden Village’ at Colworth near Sharnbrook collapsed, leaving the Local Plan 2500 homes short.  The Mayor has now forced 500 of those houses on Sharnbrook and shortened the Local Plan period to 2030, making Bedford certain to have thousands more homes pushed on us by the Oxford – Cambridge Arc initiative that the Mayor secretly signed up to.

Reducing the length of the Local Plan period from the year 2035 to 2030 lowers the housing target in the short term.  The original Local Plan allocated sites for 7855 homes to the year 2035, but the new version provides for just 4356 dwellings by 2030.  It will be subject to public consultation from the 18th September.

Conservative Cllr Alison Foster has accused Mayor Hodgson of a ‘dereliction of duty’ by postponing difficult decisions on housing growth.  She said:

‘The Mayor’s new Local Plan is a catastrophic failure of good management and responsibility.  Instead of prioritising the properly planned expansion of Bedford he pursued Colworth which would have been a disaster with significant pressure on the A6 had it not collapsed.

‘Now over half the houses will be on green field sites in the rural areas.  Sharnbrook, Great Barford, Bromham and Clapham will each have 500 homes dumped on them, changing the dynamic and character of these communities forever.

‘The Mayor admits that new housing targets will inevitably and significantly increase in the coming years but he has ducked responsibility by failing to take the big decisions on housing growth.  He needs to take responsibility for this dereliction of duty which has put the future prosperity of the Borough at risk whilst delaying new housing for first time buyers and young families.’