Planning Inspectors Send Mayor Back to Drawing Board Over ‘Botched’ Local Plan

The ongoing crisis surrounding Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson’s ‘botched’ housing plan has returned to haunt him with Planning Inspectors ruling it will have to be reviewed almost immediately after approval following a failure to take into consideration future housing growth.

Bedford Borough Council’s ‘Local Plan 2030’ was assessed by the national Planning Inspectorate in hearings conducted in June and July to determine the Plan’s ‘soundness’ in accordance with national planning policy.

The Mayor’s flawed decision to shorten the Plan period from 2035 to 2030 means it can only proceed with an ‘Early Review Policy’ by being updated and re-submitted for further ‘Examination’ within 3 years.  The Mayor’s preferred option for 4500 homes at the ‘Colworth Garden Village’, adjacent to Sharnbrook, was abandoned due to concerns relating to noise from the Santa Pod Raceway nearby.

The Plan also fails to take into account significant housebuilding and required infrastructure incorporated into the Oxford – Cambridge Arc policy.

Cllr Graeme Coombes, Conservative Group Leader, said:

‘The Mayor’s botched Local Plan 2030 has been taken to task by the Planning Inspectors for failing to plan for future housing demand.

‘Despite five years of preparation, the Mayor has changed his mind and his housing plans so frequently, that even after multiple rounds of consultation, Bedford has been landed with a Local Plan that has in effect been branded as unworkable.

‘The Mayor staked everything on building 4500 homes at Colworth, but had no alternative strategy when this failed to come off, other than dumping 500 homes on greenfield sites in Bromham, Sharnbrook, Great Barford and Clapham.

‘The required change to the Local Plan confirms that the Mayor has previously been an Oxford – Cambridge Arc denier and is now being forced by the Inspectors to prepare for it. 

‘The Mayor kicked the can down the road to get him past the election in May.  There is now the very real prospect he will continue to overload our villages with new homes without relief for our already congested road networks.  The Mayor has failed to deliver a long-term, coherent Local Plan.’