Beds, Herts & Bucks

'Thousands' of new homes planned for Bedfordshire

Thousands of new homes could be built in Bedfordshire over the next 20 years, it has been announced.

Central Bedfordshire Council's new development strategy includes building 8,500 homes north of Luton and Houghton Regis, and up to 2,500 homes east of Leighton Buzzard.

Plans also include a rail freight terminal at Sundon and a new industrial estate and country park in Flitwick.

The council said 28,750 new homes are needed in the region before 2031.

The new strategy has gone out to public consultation and, if adopted, will be the starting point for considering all development proposals to ensure that enough homes and jobs are delivered in the right areas.

It suggests a reduction in the number of homes recommended in previous strategies developed from the 2008 East of England Plan, which covered the 2011-2026 period.

'Slight increase'

Councillor Nigel Young said the number of homes needed to be put into perspective.

"It's 1,400 homes a year over a 20-year period and we are currently delivering 1,300 homes a year so it is a very slight increase on homes delivery right now," he said.

"But [the plan] is about a great deal more than homes, it's about jobs, and 27,000 new jobs will be provided over the same period."

Approximately 90 hectares has been earmarked for "employment land", plus a A5-M1 link road will be built and there is also the possibility of a rail freight interchange at the new junction 11a of the M1.

"We can turn the south of central Bedfordshire into something of an economic regenerator," said Mr Young.

Some green belt land has been allocated but the council said it had redrawn the boundaries to ensure land is protected in the future and is planning other "green infrastructure".

"We are allocating a section of green belt north of Houghton Regis and north of Luton and a small section east of Leighton Buzzard but along with that we will create 'green wheels'," he said.

"We are very conscious of providing leisure infrastructure, particularly in the form of country parks."

A spokesperson from the Bedfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said that it would be looking at the report in detail and would "respond accordingly".

The consultation will run until 8 August 2012 with the aim that it will become the adopted planning policy for Central Bedfordshire in February 2014.

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