Planning Committee - Houghton Regis TC
Monday 25th January 2021 held virtually under lockdown.
With the usual applications for improving and upgrading private residences - this meeting saw two major items on the agenda. Unfortunately these two items showed the limits of the Town Council’s role.
As mentioned in my last report, a new development is being proposed immediately adjacent to the existing Houghton Park Estate, within the Houghton Regis North development area. We are aware that this area is going to be built on, however, because of a lack of strategic overview and control, the access/egress will solely be through Houghton Park. Not just for residents but also for all the construction traffic. Existing residents have made their views very clear, as have Houghton Regis Town Council, and we are being assisted by CBC Cllr Toni Ryan, who will ensure that this issue is presented to the CBC councillors, rather than be decided by officers. We have some hope that a compromise will be reached that removes the need for construction traffic to use existing roads.
The other matter is more complicated and one which we have less influence over.
Windsor Drive is a piece of open land in Houghton Regis that is owned by CBC. We were told some time ago that CBC would be using some of this land for development and sought the views of the Council as to what kind of development we would support. Windsor Drive is a popular venue for dog walkers, youth football training and general exercise. It also forms part of the "Green Corridor" - a stretch of land from Chalton Cross to Grove House Gardens in Dunstable which is almost entirely rural.
CBC have been given targets for house building by Central Government which if they fail to meet, will be enforced on them.
Also, central government issues the National Planning Policy Framework which contains a presumption for sustainable development. This means that, if a developer can meet this (actually pretty low) bar, appeals against the development will fail.
This means that: we are going to have to accept that development will take place, but we will seek to minimise its size and maintain our Green Corridor.
What we all need to remember is that political parties exist to represent their backers. When a political party receives massive financial backing from developers and construction companies and then gets into power for 10 years, you should expect them to reward their backers.