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 Part 4G of the Constitution.
The Chairman invited the public speakers to make their statement in accordance with the Public Participation Scheme.
Central Bedfordshire Local Plan
Mrs Peall, resident of Lidlington, was disappointed at the scale of proposed development for Lidlington. She suggested this should be reduced and other suitable sites could be developed, including brownfield land and sites at Aspley Guise and Marston Thrift. She felt this approach could deliver the same number of homes and cause less damage to the environment and to existing communities. She raised concerns about the impact of overdevelopment on the environment, wildlife, character of the village, increased traffic and coalescence. She also raised concerns about the proposed development by Covanta Energy at Rookery Pit as this would also bring additional noise and air pollution, making the area unattractive.
Ms Spearing, Chair of Ridgmont Parish Council, acknowledged the need to have a Local Plan and that the timetable for submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State had been driven by the Government as had the methodology for calculating the level of housing need. She felt that the Local Plan had not taken into account feedback from the public and that the Council had not engaged with the community. There had been a high number of objections as this had been the first opportunity for the public to raise issues with the proposed site allocations. The minor modifications paper had not included the objections from the community as these would be left for the Planning Inspector to consider. The proposed development would have an impact on infrastructure, the environment, agricultural land and the Greensand Ridge. She felt that the Council had not assessed the landscape along Greensand Ridge, the preferred site at Marston Gate was not appropriate and the core principles set out in the National Planning Policy Framework had not been followed. The residents of Ridgmont would be putting their objections to the Planning Inspector.
Mrs Pisano, resident of Tempsford, emphasised that the role of a councillor was to represent the views of local residents. The majority of people who had responded to the consultation on the Local Plan had objected and she felt that there had been a lack of transparency and communication. She stated that Tempsford was unsuitable for development due to the risk of flooding.
Mr Anderson, resident of Tempsford, explained that Tempsford had been identified as a location for future growth. He felt that this area should not be part of the Local Plan as it had not been included in the original draft of the Plan and it was not prominent within the second draft. The consultation on the site had not been adequate and there was no mention of the process for dealing with those sites identified for future growth and there was no technical evidence available. Tempsford was a high flood risk area and its potential development would cause serious risks to existing and new development. There would be a lack of open space, biodiversity and the loss of the historic site, RAF Tempsford. To keep this area as an identified location for future growth risked impacting on the character of the village and he was concerned about coalescence. He requested that the Council remove this area of Tempsford from the proposed Local Plan.
In response, the Executive Member for Regeneration:
· explained that the brownfield site, RAF Henlow, had been allocated for mixed use. Central Bedfordshire had a limited amount of brownfield sites as most had already been put to best use and fully developed;
· Members were being asked to authorise the submission of the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for examination. Having a Local Plan would mean that the Council retained control over where development would be located rather than it taking place in an ad hoc way;
· 6,300 representations had been received of which 73% had objected to the Plan proposals, 20% had commented and 7% had supported the proposed Local Plan. All responses received from the consultation would be submitted to the Planning Inspector;
· following the submission of the proposed Local Plan, a Planning Inspector would be appointed and a Public Examination would be held.
· if the Local Plan was approved by the Planning Inspector, developers would need to submit planning applications where issues such as landscaping would be addressed. As part of the planning application process, specific development proposals would be subject to public consultation before any decisions were made; and
· in the first version of the proposed Local Plan, Tempsford had been included as a site allocation and the Council had received a significant number of objections/comments from the residents in Tempsford. The proposed development of Tempsford relied on significant infrastructure and had been removed from the site allocation and included as a site for future growth.
Mrs Bagchi highlighted the document produced by Public Health England entitled ‘Water fluoridation: health monitoring report for England 2018’. She was concerned that the report had limitations as the total dose of fluoride absorbed by people had not been measured and felt that the report could not be taken seriously and she had no confidence in its findings.
Mr Hobbs explained that Everton was a fluoridated area. Fluoride was toxic, along with lead and arsenic, and was not fit for purpose. He explained the impact that this had on children’s teeth and how it contributed to people with thyroid problems.
In response, the Executive Member for Public Health explained that Bedford Borough Council was carrying out a review into fluoridation and the results from this review would be considered by Central Bedfordshire Council. He had been advised that the water in Central Bedfordshire was safe.
Ms Whittaker, representing Henlow Theatre, requested that the Council do not demolish it. The Theatre was a big part of the community and was based on the outskirts of the Camp. She invited Members of the Council to attend the next production to see that the theatre was worth saving.
The Leader of the Council referred to item 11 on the Agenda ‘RAF Henlow Site’ where the Council was being asked to support the exploration of options to transfer or purchase the site and the theatre would be part of this.