A proposal to build up to 5,150 houses on greenbelt land on the outskirts of Houghton Regis was given the go-ahead by Central Beds Council yesterday (September 4), writes Richard Redman.
The ‘flexible’ plans also allow for up to 202,500m² of retail and industrial development – as well as a care home – and are expected to change the face of the area over the next 20 years.
As many as 1,545 ‘affordable housing’ dwellings could be delivered, in line with the council’s policy to ensure that about 30 per cent of new housing from planning permissions reflect the type of housing best-suited to the area’s needs.
The affordable housing will be a ‘50/50’ split between shared ownership mortgages and affordable rent tenures.
Consultant project manager Lachlan Robertson told the development management committee that an increase in property value could see even more affordable housing being built.
He said: “Should we see an increase in value over the next 20 years, some of the extra value would go to the council to do with as they see fit, to pay for additional affordable housing.”
Mr Robertson also said that the granted planning permission will allow developers to ‘flex’ their proposals to reflect future market or social changes.
He added: “This will be a balancing exercise for the council – the financial viability against the environmental impact this will have.
“The key to this development is the opening of the M1-A5 link road. Without that, no one gets anything.”
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.
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.
Dunstable Town Council and Houghton Regis Town Council made no objection, though Houghton Regis requested that consideration be given to potential traffic problems the scheme could cause.
The plans were approved almost unanimously by the committee, with only one abstained vote.
Herald&Post readers took to Facebook to voice their views on the plans.
Amy Ivins said: “What is the point of labelling an area ‘greenbelt’ if you are then allowed to build on it?”
Carey Adams said: “I think anything we have to contribute on the subject is a moot point.
“So far all CBC have shown us recently is that resistance is futile.”
However, Sam Cash said: “I think it’s a good idea.”
n What do you think? Get in touch on Facebook or tweet @Dunstable_Rick.
n For the full story on the decision – and for more reaction – see next week’s Luton News and Dunstable Gazette.