How many plans have we been asked to comment on in the last four or five years? There was the Parish Plan, the Green Wheel Plan, the Neighbourhood Plan, and so it goes on. Now there is another: the Local Plan. Sounds like more of the same? Read on to see why this Plan deserves your attention.
CBC’s Local Plan sets out how Central Bedfordshire will develop over the next 20 years. It is a privilege that we are being offered the opportunity to help shape our region for ourselves and for future generations. If we do not speak up during this consultation period, development will happen anyway and we will have no control over it.
Development means more houses. This is unavoidable: there is a huge unmet housing need. However, this Plan also sets out to ensure that transport networks can cope, that the impact on the countryside is limited, that there are homes for everyone, young and old. It contains plans for jobs and services like schools, shops and pubs as well as housing.
The Local Plan is a big document and it isn’t necessary to read it all. The section that is directly relevant to Fairfield is the section named ‘East of Arlesey’. Up to 2,000 new homes, community facilities and services are planned, along with a new relief road to take the pressure off Arlesey High Street.
A big concern is the encroachment of road and housing very close to Fairfield’s western shelterbelt. Although the plan contains a commitment to “protect important countryside gaps” so that there is clear separation between existing towns and villages and new developments, allowing them to keep their own identities and rural character, many questions remain. Not least, how big exactly is a ‘countryside gap’?
Whilst Fairfield Parish Council (FPC) acknowledges the urgent need for new housing, it intends to respond to this document with a view to protecting what is important to existing Fairfield residents. Since it recognises that it does not have the expertise to do this effectively, it was decided at a recent council meeting to employ the services of an expert to make a strategic case to present to the consultation.
Alongside FPC’s official response on our behalf, it is vital for all residents to be aware of the proposals and to have their own say. Weight of opinon can not be conveyed effectively by FPC – that is best achieved by large numbers of individual voices.
So how do you make your voice heard? Before 22 February, go to the CBC website www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/localplan, where you can read the document and post your comments. There is also a lot more information and commentary on the FPC website: www.fairfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk.