Gold Lane developer back with 160 dwellings proposal
Having failed in his plans to construct 250 dwellings on farmland west of Gold Lane, the developer has now returned with new proposals for 160 properties, albeit on a reduced site in the north-east corner. This new proposal appears to be compliant with the emerging Bedford Borough Council’s draft Local Plan, so if this is also to be defeated it will require another concerted effort by village residents submitting a substantial number of individual objections to complement those from ourselves, the parish council and other formal consultees of the authority. The parish council will shortly be circulating a leaflet urging all residents to submit their own objections to this new proposal. This can, however, be done immediately by e-mail to email@example.com quoting the planning reference 18/03100/MAO. Be sure to include your postal address. There is no need to go into your reasons for objecting; a short sentence or two will suffice. The planning authority is already well aware of the village’s view on developing this tract of land, and the important aspect now is to demonstrate this in volume terms. The closing date for objections is 30th January 2019. To view the complete application Go to www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans/p
1. Click on the link TO VIEW AND COMMENT ON PLANNING APPLICATIONS
2. Type in 18/03100/MAO and click on the Search button.
3. For the plans click on Documents followed by View Associated documents
4. A contents list and all the relevant plans will be shown. The plans have a measuring tool attached, please refer to the How to Guides www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans for guidance
Tony Wood Chairman
DEVELOPER PLANS 300 HOUSES TO GRAB MOST OF THE FARMLAND WEST OF GOLD LANE
On 31st October 2017 a meeting was held between interested parties and the proposed developers of a modest area of farmland west of Gold Lane bounded by Gold Lane to the east, Bromham Road to the north and Duck End Lane to the south, on which the local authority had suggested 160 dwellings would be appropriate. Those attending included local councillors, the Parish Council and Friends of Biddenham Pond as well as the Biddenham Society. The developers Curtin and Co. were accompanied by a representative from Lioncourt Strategic Land.
The Biddenham representatives were astonished instead to be confronted with a plan for 300 houses covering an area nearly four times that provisionally suggested by the local authority as appropriate. Houses would completely surround Duck End Lane as far south as the village pond, and extend west to the footpath between the church and the Bromham bypass. Whilst the developers insisted the plans presented were only ‘Work in progress’ it was very clear that any adverse views expressed would make no difference to the overall size of the scheme proposed.
The developer’s tactics were seen by all present as a flagrant attempt to grab most of our remaining open space for the pecuniary gain of themselves and the landowners, and without any regard for the effects on the village and its residents. Our unanimous opposition was made clear, and in a subsequent private discussion the next course of action to be taken to prevent the proposed development was decided.
Update: 1 September 2017 After due consideration, and despite widespread objections, the planning committee approved this application following adjustments to the height and nature of the front boundary. It is also regrettable that, when considering applications in Biddenham for demolition and replacement with larger properties, officers now regularly cite the existence of previously approved large developments in Main Road and Biddenham Turn as justification, even though ‘precedence’ is not recognised in local planning law
Planning application 17/01738/FUL
seeks approval to demolish the existing property at 8 Main Road and replace it with a new dwelling of substantial size and contemporary design.
The replacement would have three floors against the two at present, with a prominent double depth crown roof and a footprint three and a half times the existing.
The architectural style and mass are not replicated in other properties on Main Road, which is more typified by single houses of varying character which do not detract from their surroundings.
The roadside boundary of the site fronts the Biddenham Conservation area, and any development will therefore have a significant impact on the special character of this pretty part of Biddenham, and on the setting of the grade 2 listed building opposite.
The society believes the proposed replacement building is not contextually appropriate in respect of size, scale, massing, architectural character, relationship with nearby buildings, and alignment and treatment of the setting, and has recommended that planning permission is refused.
BEDFORD BOROUGH LOCAL PLAN 2035: CONSULTATION
The Biddenham Society has submitted the following objections to Policies 19 and 23 (which relate to tracts of land west of Gold Lane and on the north side of Bromham Road close to the bridge) of the draft 2035 Local Plan, and has requested the policies are withdrawn.
This area of land is currently protected by Policy AD43 (Urban Open Spaces and Gaps) of the Borough’s Allocations and Designations Plan. Policy AD43 identifies urban open spaces as those ‘which have particular importance in maintaining the function, character and identity of the urban area’. It specifically highlights the need to preserve ‘visual breaks to safeguard local distinctiveness including views (particular areas of importance around Elstow and Biddenham have been identified as gaps)’.
It further states that ‘Development will not be permitted on land designated as urban open space and gaps unless it can be demonstrated that the reasons for designation are not compromised or that other material considerations outweigh the need to retain the urban open space and gaps undeveloped’.
This policy (AD43) supports the most recent inspector’s report on this area which relates to an application from Wimpey Homes Holdings to ‘Allocate 18.61ha of land at Gold Lane, Biddenham for some 350 new dwellings on 10ha of net developable land with generous landscaping’ (May 2001 Inspector’s Report on the Bedford Borough Local Plan, page 116 section 4.2.27). He concludes that ‘Development of the scale proposed would seriously diminish the visual attraction of the village edge’, and that ‘By extending north-westwards over what is now a relatively wide rural landscape, it would much diminish the separation between this fringe area of Bedford and the nearby village of Bromham’.
The Biddenham Society suggests that the rationale for creating Policy 19 to supersede Policy AD43 of the Allocations and Designation Plan for this area is unsound for the following reasons:
The Inspector’s conclusions are as valid now as they were in 2001. In the intervening period the only change on this site has been the replacement of a single derelict barn at the end of Duck End Lane with a new dwelling, otherwise the entire area is in exactly the same condition as before, and remains undisturbed agricultural land.
Whilst the current proposal in Policy 19 is to develop only 160 dwellings compared to the 350 on which the inspector ruled, his conclusions are equally valid when applied to this lesser number. Firstly, a smaller development will still impact significantly on ‘the visual attraction of the village edge’ as he states, and secondly, confining 160 dwellings to the north-east of the site does not negate the inspector’s concern of closing the gap with Bromham by extending the village north-westwards.
The development of 160 dwellings in Proposal 19 is certainly in conflict with the existing Policy AD43, and it is difficult to conceive how one could dispute that this development would have a serious negative effect on ‘maintaining the function,character and identity’ of Biddenham. Further, the local authority cannot argue that ‘other material considerations outweigh the need to retain the urban open space and gaps undeveloped’ as Bedford Borough has many more sustainable and brown-field sites that could be developed for the 160 properties proposed here.
Proposal 9 is also flawed on practical grounds. There is no safe vehicular access to and from the section of the site identified, with any chosen exit onto Gold Lane raising the prospect of a significant increase in traffic through the centre of the village. Local schools are not equipped to handle the increased numbers of school-age children which will result from new housing of this magnitude, the education service already being under pressure to cater for the extra demand resulting from the large building programme north of Bromham Road.
The Biddenham Society therefore urges Bedford Borough to delete Policy 9 from the 2035 draft Local Plan.
Policy 23 This area of land is currently protected by Policy AD42 (Local Gaps) of the Allocations and Designations Plan, and by Policies CP12 and CP13 of the Core strategy and Rural Issues Plan. The proposed Policy 23 to the new Local Plan seeks to set aside important geographical and environmental factors which the borough previously considered to be sufficiently significant as to be worthy of inclusion as ‘red lines’ in the planning framework. These include
Preserving the physical presence, visual appearance, character, and integrity of the gap between the site and the Bromham boundary; and
Defining the site as open countryside within the context of Settlement Policy Areas, with future development only being permitted if consistent with national policy, in particular PPS7: Planning and the Countryside.
There have been no changes to this area of land since the above two plans were approved, the most recent application for development (16/00737/MAO) being withdrawn following widespread opposition, including from the planning authority. It is therefore difficult to understand why there should be a reversal of policy as the earlier objections still apply, especially when the relatively small number of dwellings that can be accommodated could be built on more suitable sites available elsewhere in the borough.
In addition to the above it is clear there are several other sound reasons why this particular site is unsuitable for housing development. These include
Its part presence in flood zones 2 and 3a which will place an unnecessary burden and worry on future occupants of dwellings constructed here;
The presence of a narrow and dangerous access onto Bromham Road;
Causing increased traffic flow across the ancient Bromham Bridge in one direction, and onto the Bromham bypass via a hazardous junction in the other direction; and
The destruction of the beautiful vistas to and from the bridge and the mill.
The Biddenham Society therefore urges Bedford Borough to
delete Policy 23 from the 2035 draft Local Plan.
The Biddenham Society (founded 1965) Chairman: Dr Tony Wood
Land off Deep Spinney, Biddenham, Bedfordshire
The Biddenham Society opposes this application.
There are many reasons why this application should be refused by the local authority. Most of these have been identified, and are strongly supported, by residents of the village, and no doubt form the basis of numerous objections already submitted. These include:
Destruction of the fine landscape views across the site towards the river valley
Loss of the present wildlife-friendly paths through arable farmland with the consequent destruction of habitats
Reduction of the visual separation of Biddenham from Bromham
Dangerous entrance and exit proposals for vehicles associated with the site
Significant increases in traffic through the village and on Bromham Road
Inadequate schools provision to support the number of properties proposed
Potentially detrimental effects on the village pond and its associated wildlife
Overdevelopment of the area with consequent loss of character
In the most recent (2001) report by an independent inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to consider objections to the development of this parcel of land, the inspector states:
“…development of the scale proposed would seriously diminish the visual attractions of the village edge…and the separation between this fringe area of Bedford and the nearby village of Bromham” (May 2001 Report, section 4.2.30).
This proposal is in conflict with current policy AD43 of the Bedford Borough’s Allocations and Designations Plan, and is contrary to saved Policies BE30 i), BE35 iii), and BE36, of the Local Plan, and Policy CP21 iii) of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan, and we urge its refusal.
The last remaining large green space in Biddenham, the farmland west of Gold Lane, is under threat:
From application 18/00140/MAO to build 250 dwellings on the site
From Policy 19 of the draft new Bedford Borough Local Plan 2035 which will remove the protection given by the previous Local Plan.
The picture above shows what this area could look like if we fail to stop these threats.
The development of this large site will remove the fine landscape views towards the river valley and Bromham, ruin the quality of the rural walks along the many footpaths, threaten wildlife living in the vicinity of our ancient village pond, overload our local schools, greatly increase traffic along Bromham Road and Gold Lane generating dangerous exits from the site, and reduce the green gap separating Biddenham and Bromham. With the huge surrounding developments, Biddenham has already contributed significantly to the borough’s housing targets. There should be no more building here.
THE BIDDENHAM SOCIETY IS WORKING WITH THE PARISH COUNCIL AND LOCAL GROUPS TO BLOCK THIS POTENTIAL DESECRATION OF OUR VILLAGE, BUT WE NEED THE HELP OF RESIDENTS AND OTHER SUPPORTERS IF WE ARE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
We are asking you to object to BOTH of these threats SEPARATELY to show the strength of feeling in the village. Below we tell you how to make your objections. Individual submissions from all the adult occupants of a single household and their friends (whether or not they live in the village) all count, and will multiply the number of objections recorded by the borough and the impact of our objections. In every case the name and address of the individual objector must be included.
APPLICATION 18/00140/MAO TO BUILD 250 DWELLINGS
Details: To access plans and comments on application 18/00140/MAO
by post to: Planning, 4th Floor, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AP. In all cases quoting the application reference at the beginning and including your name and address.
What do I say?
You should say “I object to application 18/00140/MAO”, adding any personal reasons for your objection.
When do I submit my objection?
As soon as possible. The current closing date notified is 16th February. This may be extended, but to be safe please send in your objection now.
PROPOSED POLICY 19 OF THE DRAFT BEDFORD BOROUGH LOCAL PLAN 2035
Details You can download the whole plan from www.bedford.gov.uk/localplan2035 . In simple terms Policy 19 will remove the protection given to the site in the current Local Plan, which preserves a strong visual separation between Biddenham and Bromham. Once this is rescinded, it will be much easier for an applicant to develop the entire area and mass house building will be inevitable.
How do I object? By completing the online response form; or by
e-mailing a WORD version of the response form to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by completing a paper version of the response form and posting it to: Local Plan 2035, Planning Policy Team, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Bedford, MK42 9AP. Responses made by conventional letter will also be accepted.
What do I say? The on-line form is self-explanatory. For question 5 tick ‘Don’t Know’, for question 6 answer ’No’ and tick the first three boxes, and for question 6a enter ‘Policy 19’ from the dropdown in the second box. In the text box for question 6 enter your reasons for objecting. A suggested response to question 7 could be ‘Remove Policy 19 from the Plan’.
When do I submit my objection? As soon as possible. The deadline is 5th March 2018
BOTH THE ABOVE REPRESENT MAJOR THREATS TO THE BEAUTY, AND CHARACTER OF BIDDENHAM. PLEASE HELP US TO PROTECT THE VILLAGE BY SUBMITTING YOUR OBJECTIONS WITHOUT DELAY.
The society wishes to object to the above application for the following reasons:
Gold Lane is narrow at the point of access to the site and a further 16 vehicles (@ 2/dwelling) would exacerbate the hazards associated with this section of road.
The house and property lie within the Biddenham Conservation Area and at the heart of this historic village. The construction of new dwellings on the site would be totally out of keeping with this part of Biddenham and the character of the surrounding buildings.
The southern boundary of the property is directly adjacent to the village green and 50m from it. The 2016 Conservation Area Appraisal notes the value of the focal point of the village green, the key views to and from it, the prolific greenery and open spaces, deep grass verges and the extensive private open gardens, all contributing to the special interest of Biddenham. This attractive setting is complemented by the views of Biddenham House across the site.
There are eight historic properties or features visible within 100m of the site boundaries:
i). 63 Main Road, The Forge (C17th former blacksmith’s cottage)
ii). 48-50 Main Road, Horseshoe Cottage (C17th Listed Grade 2)
iii). 42 Main Road, Lavender Lodge (C18th former farmhouse and the oldest house in the village)
iv). 67 Main Road, The Old Vicarage (C18th Listed Grade 2 with the prominent Cedar of Lebanon tree planted in 1875 by a former vicar)
v). 67a Main Road, Groom’s Cottage (C17th former carriage house, stables and tack room)
vi). 1-3 Gold Lane, Dawn Cottage (C17th Listed Grade 2, former dairy, cobbler and costumier)
vii). 8-10 Duck End (C16th limestone rubble cottage built over the remains of a Roman Road)
viii). The entrance to The Coffin Path from Gold Lane (C16th field track for coffins to be carried to St James Church)
The proposed new buildings on this plot would destroy the historic 360 degree perspective enjoyed from the village green.
The main part of Biddenham House was built circa 1766 and is the only surviving example of an C18th double pile, polite, small country house in the village. It is alleged the property was used as a hunting lodge by a Duke of Marlborough. The 2016 Conservation Area Appraisal describes the house as having positive merit, with the setting of the house on the north side of the village green aiding the distinctiveness of this area. Its demolition would represent an unacceptable loss of a part of Biddenham’s heritage.
The application is in conflict with the 2002 Local Plan saved policies BE11, BE13, BE15, NE18, and H24 i), ii), iv), and Policy CP21 iv) of the 2008 Core Strategies and Rural Issues Plan, and we urge its rejection.
Dr Tony Wood Chairman
The Biddenham Society Chairman Dr Tony Wood
34 Church End, Biddenham, Bedford MK40 4AR
telephone 01234 349395 e-mail: email@example.com
APPLICATION TO DEMOLISH BIDDENHAM HOUSE AND BUILD 8 NEW DWELLINGS ON THE SITE
Application 17/03101/FUL seeks approval to demolish Biddenham House, 2 Gold Lane. and build 8 new dwellings on the site. The plot is in a very sensitive part of the village conservation area and in proximity to several historic properties and features. The application will be vigorously opposed by the society which believes that any development on this site is totally unacceptable.
Click on the link ‘To view and comment on Planning Applications’
Type in the application reference number.
Click Search Documents View associated documents
This yields the contents list and all the plans submitted including any amended plans which are tagged with a subscript letter.
The society’s response will be published on this blog in early January. Residents are strongly recommended to submit their own objections by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by the closing date of 11 January 2018.
Unfortunately The Borough have not had the grass cut yet and tell me they have a three year contract for cutting so we have to wait to try to change the regime. I hope it will get baled but i have my doubts
In the meantime we can continue to cut paths now it is dry at least for a bit
I am busy all this week but will try next week but if anyone can arrange to get the mower out it would be good
There is better news in the churchyard extension it has been cut and cleared of most of the grass
I have purchased some flower seed and plant plugs so we can go ahead and get these in some time soon
I hope to arrange a work aftenoon in the churchyard to scarify and plant plugs and seed
The rubble has been removed so the entrance looks a lot better
We are getting another estimate for grass cutting.
I hope to meet on that this week but may have to go with the usual arrangement again this year
I will also once again get estimates for some fencing for behind the nettles and a wooden gate to the right of the metal gate.
We can then tidy the nettle bed
We could also have a seat put there perhaps in memory of Steven
Still trying to get the churchyard grass cut slow progress as it needs to be DRY
April 2017 There is a meeting in the meadow for all interested at 10am on Friday May 12th.
We will be discussing with The Borough how we can manage the meadow as a community group.
Cutting paths, interpretation, improving the entrance and managing the field as a hay meadow are amoung the items for what we hope will be a fairly light regime
A management plan has been written
We hope the local schools might be able to take an interest
We have already cleared much of the ragwort but there is more to do
The borough are happy to meet up to discuss the start of a Cowslip meadow project and to consider our plans
I think we should meet in the barn some time
Maybe a day and evening session and get it into the Mag and The blog so that we make an impact
18th October: The grass in the cowslip meadow should be cut next week by Ray the farmer
This will include the churchyard extension grass
The PC have the money for the mower so i will go and order it this week
Then there will be training for the mower and strimmer to cover the PC insurance
The next thing is to tidy up the churchyard shed for putting the mower in–will let you know
Once Ray has cut the grass he should be along to bale it and we can discuss where they go with him!
Then I hope we can proceed with some ideas at a meeting.
We are on the Biddenham blog and the new web site when it goes live.
Best wishes, Chris
Hello all – Sorry to have been quiet again
I think The Borough are about to get the meadow grass cut having been through their tendering process. I will phone/email them about it tomorrow
The PC hopefully are proceeding with buying the mower to use in the meadow.
When we have the mower I will call for vols and arrange training with The Borough
I have the list of plants in the meadow from David G.
We need then to look at ideas for a display panel in the entrance and an improved look to the gateway
Ron has put us on The Biddenham blog and we should be on the revised Biddenham Website via Joe Warren
The pond team are unlikely to want to extend their work into the meadow but i will ask informally at the next pond Committee meeting
The Parish Council are right behind our ideas for managing the cowslip meadow, I am pleased to say after the meeting tonight
Next step is to proceed to purchase the mower so we can be trained to use it and the strimmer by the Borough
I will also try to get the grass cutting by the contractor moved on apace
I will try to put a note together for the show on Sunday to give out
You will find me mostly on the pond stand.
Thank you for your support
Please pass this on and i will need to start compiling a supporters list
A meeting was held with Bedford Borough staff in the field when a group of us met to plan the way ahead
The Borough who own the field are quite prepared for a community group to manage the field with wildlife objectives in mind but need clear plans from us
To that end a group of us have successfully removed much of the ragwort growth. If there is ragwort in a field there is no chance ever of moving the grass as a hay crop and thus helping to maintain biodiversity
The next stage is to meet with the borough volunteer officer to discuss how we could apply to set up a friends group.
To do that you will need to register your support so there should shortly be a page on the Biddenham village web site for you to do that with an email address
Look out for the date and time of a meeting in September when you can come along to ask questions or register your interest. Details will be posted on the Biddenham Blog the web site and in the notice boards
There are various models for Friends conservation groups which we can discuss at the meeting
The field is quite safe from housing development but without management input would probably revert to scrub then dense woodland in a few years thus reducing rather than enhancing biodiversity
10th August 2016
Thanks to those who came to the field meeting.
We decided to try to remove ragwort from the Cowslip meadow and will assemble to make a start on this Saturday the 13th at 2pm see how far we get. We have the backing of the Borough in this if we clear some parts at least in the future we can have a look at a cutting regime for parts of the site.
To keep paths clear it might be an idea to take up the offer of a Mower from John and Roger. This can be kept in the church shed I hope by agreement with the PCC and used elsewhere as can the strimmer training on each to be organized
We will set up another meeting with the Borough volunteers coordinator to discuss further where we go next. Meeting probably in early Sept
We hope the grass will get cut again and baled but it is unlikely to be removed. The Borough will clear the entrance and put a barrier back
See some of you on Saturday
Please pass on, Chris
28th July 2016
Next Friday (5th August) I have a meeting with the Borough in the meadow at 10am please come if you can.
Thanks to those who came to help remove ragwort from the churchyard extension. I am trying to arrange a conservation cut. To cut the cowslip meadow will entail removal of the barriers at the entrance as well as another ragwort session. Please pass this on, Chris
19th July 2016
I have been trying to establish whose responsibility the field is at the Borough. Until then we cannot go ragwort pulling or make any other plans. I have been on the phone again to Simon Fisher who seems to be in charge. The lack of communication is blamed on the river festival. I also want to get arrangements on the go to cut the grass in the meadow at some point. if we can remove the ragwort we might be more likely to get the grass/hay moved off
I have two quotes for a grass mower which i will pass on when we can arrange a meeting with the Borough
In the meantime we should practice by pulling the ragwort that has got into the churchyard extension. I am away until Monday and busy most of next week but suggest any volunteers meet at the new churchyard on Wed July 27th at 10am – it shouldn’t take long there isn’t much.
Local Plan 2035 Consultation Planning Policy Team
Bedford MK42 9AP
30 May 2017
RESPONSE TO BEDFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL’S 2035 LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION
Introduction The Biddenham Society compliments the authors of the Local Plan 2035 on addressing in a thorough and even-handed way the wide range of complex issues involved in determining the possible locations of the additional 8,103 houses it is suggested are required in the borough. We are pleased that the proposals do not bring forward several of the Biddenham sites submitted by developers, and we look forward to continuing our constructive involvement in ensuring these remain free of development in the future.
The society is, however, disappointed that sites 691 & 29 (Gold Lane) and 25 (Land to the rear of 94-122 Bromham Road) have been suggested as suitable for development, and we give below a number of reasons why we hope the borough will reconsider these two recommendations and remove them from the proposals.
Open Spaces In the late 1980s the open spaces within the current Biddenham settlement area represented approximately 30% of the village land area. In 2017, less than 30 years later, the comparable figure is just over 4%. This rapid erosion has been the result of creating the Deep Spinney Estate to the south of Bromham Road, coupled with granting change of use to housing for many of the village’s paddocks. Sites 691 & 29 together with the remaining fields west of Gold Lane provide essential counterbalancing open space along the western boundary which helps to offset some of this loss.
Biddenham’s heritage From 1086 to the twentieth century Biddenham was largely a farming and rural community, with six farms still existing in the early 1900s. By the end of the 20th Century, all the farmhouses and outbuildings had either been demolished or converted to modern residential accommodation, mostly in sympathy with their original purpose, so they continue to contribute positively to the overall character of the village. The farmland between Gold Lane and the western by-pass is now the only working link to Biddenham’s heritage, and the loss of any portion of this to housing would be detrimental to the character and history of this beautiful village.
Other factors The proposed development of sites 691 & 29 will remove part of the natural break between Biddenham and the Bromham by-pass. Site 25 lies in the flood plain of the river and if developed will reduce the gap between the Biddenham and Bromham settlements. Safe vehicular access to and from both sites could well prove problematic, especially for site 25 where, on the basis of two cars per household, over 50 vehicles could regularly use the narrow semi-blind access to Bromham Road, the splay of which cannot easily be increased owing to the private ownership of the adjacent land.
The society is concerned about the consequences for local schools of increasing the population of Biddenham by a further 187 dwellings, especially for the proposed St James’ CE Primary School. There could also be repercussions for the village’s historic 300-year-old pond from properties constructed on the Gold Lane site. The pond relies on run-off from the surrounding fields to maintain the water levels necessary to support wildlife, and if these proposals are implemented its survival could be threatened.
Over-development During the last 30 years the area inside the Biddenham Loop has contributed more than its fair share towards successive borough building targets, resulting in the loss of vast tracts of agricultural land and open amenity spaces. The Deep Spinney Estate and the on-going Great Denham development will together have added in excess of 2000 dwellings when the latter is completed, with the construction of a further 1300 or so properties recently started north of Bromham Road.
This is a housing contribution of substantial significance which has had a considerable effect on the character and nature of what was originally a rural village. In this context, it would seem a small but important gesture of recognition for the borough to relocate the 187 dwellings proposed for Biddenham in this consultation, and thereby help preserve its beauty and character for future generations to enjoy.
In the spirit of giving constructive feedback, the society has suggested (see Appendix) some amendments to the published document. These include alternative proposed sites for the 187 dwellings currently allocated to Biddenham. We would also urge the borough to re-examine the basis of its calculation that a total of 19,000 new homes will be required in the borough by 2035, an assumption which leads to the suggested 8,103 shortfall quoted in this consultation. To the society this appears a considerable over-estimate of need when taking into account the many factors involved. Reducing this total to a more realistic figure would relieve some of the pressure on areas like Biddenham which have already made a major contribution towards housing growth.
Green space The Society is concerned that only a single site from the several submitted for Biddenham has been accepted for designation as a Green Space. We would respectfully question whether the deciding criteria have been correctly applied in all cases, and would urge the council to offer the facility for any applicant village to submit further evidence in support of a particular site if it is felt an injustice has occurred. This issue is particularly important for Biddenham in view of the very few open spaces remaining in the village. We can confirm that to varying degrees all spaces submitted support:
the continuation of Biddenham as a semi-rural village as demonstrated by trees, open grass areas, wildlife and its local community spirit;
the provision of space for the community’s residents and families for play, leisure and relaxation;
a natural break in the ever-increasing presence of housing; and
protection against continued over-development.
Summary The Biddenham Society is generally supportive of the content of the consultative document, and of the methodologies adopted in reaching its recommendations.
However, we believe the time is now right for the borough to recognise the significant contribution made by the parish of Biddenham over the last 30 years towards the borough’s successive housing targets, and the detrimental effects this has had on the open and amenity spaces of what was formerly a rural village.
These effects have been compounded by the on-going construction of thousands of new dwellings to the south and north of the village. Despite this, Biddenham has managed to retain many valued aspects of its heritage – celebrated in 2015 by the creation of a heritage trail funded by the national lottery – which are enjoyed and appreciated by residents and visitors alike. The village is truly a jewel in the crown of the Borough of Bedford, and we wish it to remain so.
The number of new dwellings proposed for Biddenham in the consultative document will make only a small contribution towards the borough’s residual new-build targets but – in the case of areas 691 & 29 in particular – will result in large negative consequences for the village following the reclassification of specific fields from agricultural to residential use.
We therefore ask for the stated Biddenham sites to be declassified from the plan as potential development areas.
Dr Tony Wood
Chairman 34 Church End
Having examined the sustainability and other listed factors for the various sites listed in the document, the Society suggests the borough may wish to consider the following site amendments.
To extend the number of houses in the new developments at Lee Farm Sharnbrook (site 622), Thurleigh Airfield (site 630), Land at Twinwoods (site 608 listed under Milton Ernest) and Wyboston Garden Village (site 659) to make up for the 187 houses removed from the Biddenham sites.
To include the areas of either 133 or 134. The exclusion of these areas was to enable sport facilities that “are supposed to be provided” with concerns about access. The Biddenham Society recommends that the allocation of one of these sites, adjacent to an area already developed in Great Denham, would leave the other to be developed for sport. Access is available from the roundabout on the A428 towards the bottom of Figure 1 below.
Figure 1 – Access to sites 133 and 134
3. To extend the proposed developments at other sites which are already included for large scale development at Bromham, Salph End, Sharnbrook, Clapham (Opt.2) and Roxton.
Bedford Borough Council is preparing a local plan that will set out how much growth there should be in the borough in coming years (housing, jobs and associated infrastructure) and where it should take place. Current planning policy documents look up to 2021 and the new local plan will extend that period up to 2035. It will also include policies that will be used to make decisions on planning applications.
The Council has asked for comments on the consultation paper it has issued about the new plan, together with a number of supporting evidence documents. The consultation period ends on 9 June 2017.
In the Borough Council’s consultation paper an area of land off Gold Lane, Biddenham, and within sites numbered 29 and 691 in the documentation is shown as a potential development area at this stage: that area of land is not immediately adjacent to the village pond. But in a supporting document, the current draft Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA), the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691 is shown as being suitable, available and achievable for development.
Our village pond is not served by streams or springs and relies on precipitation and run off from adjacent fields for its water, and importantly the entire area surrounding the pond is currently wildlife friendly. Developing all the land in sites 29 and 691, particularly the field to the north of and by the side of the village pond, between the pond and Duck End Lane, would have a significant and substantial practical and aesthetic impact on the pond.
It would threaten the pond’s very survival and the survival of the wide range of wildlife it supports, including rare and protected species, by adversely impacting both run off water to the pond and also the pond’s setting in the presently attractive open and wildlife friendly landscape around it, thereby reducing the scope for and ability of wildlife to migrate to and from the pond and thus the opportunity for sustainable healthy breeding through genetic diversity with other populations.
The Friends has submitted comments, in a letter to the Borough Council, concluding that given the need to protect and conserve our natural environment, not least species protected by the law, wildlife corridors, and sites of local importance, and to safeguard the future of the village pond, its wildlife and the open wildlife friendly landscape in which the pond sits, it is seeking:
at the very minimum, the removal from the threat of development of the field by the side of and to the north of the pond and its retention as open space, that is to its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development (as was categorised land to the west of that field at Stage 2 of the availability assessment); and
more substantially, the removal from the threat of development of the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691, south of the A4280, and its retention as open space, and similarly therefore its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development.
Please do support your village pond by writing to the Borough Council’s Planning Department with your comments. You can send your comments by email to email@example.com or by post to:
Local Plan 2035 consultation
Planning Policy Team
Bedford Borough Council