Questions, Statements and Deputations
To receive any questions, statements and deputations from members of the public in accordance with the Public Participation Procedure as set out in Annex 1 of part A4 of the Constitution.
The Chairman advised that four members of the public had registered to speak on the draft Local Plan and one member of the public wished to speak on fluoridation.
The Chairman invited the members of the public who had registered to speak to address the Council.
1. Mr Denchfield raised concerns about the draft Local Plan which he considered to contain vague and inaccurate details of the proposed number of homes and exact locations and asked if government models had been used to determine the proposals. Mr Denchfield felt that it was inappropriate at this time to ask residents to comment on the draft Plan. He raised concerns about the focus that there appeared to be on the East of Central Bedfordshire because of its infrastructure links rather than other large conurbations such as Ampthill and Flitwick. Mr Denchfield spoke about how he felt Biggleswade had been unfairly targeted with significant developments already having taken place and as a result how the existing infrastructure was struggling to cope.
2. Mr Lasham spoke about his concerns on the draft Local Plan proposals, particularly for Bigglewade. Mr Lasham spoke about how he felt Biggleswade has been adversely effected by significant developments that had taken place already. He raised concerns about the impact on wildlife and on agriculture land.
3. Mr Crockart, a Biggleswade resident, spoke about his concerns and the impact of the proposals on the town, in particular the roads and infrastructure in Biggleswade.
4. Mr Rix raised concerns about the road infrastructure and car parks in Biggleswade and how the proposals in the Local Plan would exacerbate existing problems. He asked if there was a plan in place to alleviate the problems and urged the Council to reconsider their proposals.
5. Mrs Williams spoke about the fluoridation of water in Central Bedfordshire and the extent to which those residents affected had been made aware that there water had been flouridated.
Councillor Young, Executive Member for Regeneration thanked the speakers and responded to concerns about the draft Local Plan as follows:
The public consultation had been extended from six to eight weeks and so far four public drop-in sessions had taken place. He explained why it was important to have a Local Plan as quickly as possible and emphasised that no decisions had been made at this stage. The plan was proposing options for growth over the next 20 years, including homes which were needed.
Councillor Young addressed concerns about the draft plan being unbalanced and focusing on the eastern area of Central Bedfordshire. He advised that development was balanced and gave an example of the 23,000 new homes with planning permission in the southern half of Central Bedfordshire, including 7,000 in Houghton Regis.
Councillor Young responded to concerns about the need for more detail about specific sites and the number of homes. He advised that at this stage the plan set out broad locations for growth and numbers and that the next stage of the plan would be more specific. The current version of the draft plan included space for schools, health provision, shops and community facilities. The community planning events would inform requirements. The next stage of the plan would develop the requirements further.
In terms of infrastructure, feedback from residents indicated that there was a need and desire for development to be located close to road and rail infrastructure. The major growth locations included requirements for improvements to existing infrastructure, such as the A1 and a new bypass at Arlesey. It was noted that infrastructure would have to be in place prior to substantial development taking place. Some of the growth was dependant on the East –West rail.
Councillor Young addressed concerns about protecting the wildlife and agricultural land and advised that in was the intention within the plan to enhance the countryside.
Councillor Spurr, Executive Member for Health responded to Mrs Williams and advised that homes that were affected by fluoridation had been identified and that a map was being produced which would be published. Councillor Spurr referred to work that a neighbouring authority was undertaking into this area of work which Central Bedfordshire hoped to draw on.