The principle of building 5,150 homes north of Houghton Regis is due to be decided at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon (Sept 4).
Councillors at a special gathering of Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee will be wading through a 117-page report detailing the issues.
Paid council officials have recommended granting outline planning permission, subject to referral to the Secretary of State. It is considered to be of ‘sub-regional’ importance.
Among objectors are the owners of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, in Dunstable, who say the plans, including retail, pub and takeaway uses, could take trade away from the town centre.
That point is contested however. The report says the development is key to building the A5-M1 road and the Woodside Link that are considered crucial in unlocking investment in the town centre.
The report states that the Secretary of State for Transport has indicated his intention to approve the road should planning permission be granted on the basis that the applicant will be contributing £45 million. The government will be contributing the remaining £127 million.
Luton Borough Council has also made an official objection, arguing it should be able to house people from its waiting lists in half of the affordable homes on the huge site. The land is largely arable farmland.
The Houghton Regis Development Consortium plans also envisage up to 202,500 sq-m in business and other uses including offices, industrial and storage, hotel, care home, car showroom, data centre and a petrol station.
Business group Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce has “strongly” supported the plan, known as HRN1. In a statement to the meeting in Shefford, the Chamber said it sees HRN1 as a perfect example of an infrastructure led, balanced, sustainable development of employment land, much needed housing with appropriate, modern community amenities. The Chamber added it would work “with the prime contractors and Central Bedfordshire Council” to maximise the local procurement of goods and services.