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'Flawed' Borough Policies Open Door to a Future of Damaging Development

April 23, 2008 6:18 PM
building site

New policies to manage the wave of development due in Bedford Borough are deeply flawed, say Liberal Democrats

Controversial new policies for the future development of Bedford Borough have been branded 'deeply flawed' by Liberal Democrats. The Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan, passed at last week's meeting of the borough council but opposed by the Liberal Democrats, imposes weak environmental standards on the 17,500 new homes due to be built in the borough by 2021 and could permit over-development and urban sprawl across unsuitable sites.

The Lib Dems took their stand in spite of being told that government regulations do not allow local representatives to oppose or amend these crucial policies affecting the local area.

Following the meeting Bedford Borough Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Michael Headley stressed the harmful long-term implications of the new policies for the local area. He said:

"It should be of grave concern to local residents that the document which will guide the large amount of development due to take place in the borough between now and 2021 is deeply flawed in several respects. With 17,500 new homes due to be built in the borough in that period it is a sad indictment of the council that they could now be built to inadequate standards of sustainability and in unsuitable locations.'

"Instead of a zero carbon growth policy, we have the council asking timidly for developers to achieve a 10% reduction on carbon emissions only if it is 'feasible.' The document is also completely lacking any safeguards for the sustainability of our urban and suburban communities. For example, it is missing any protection for essential local services such as post offices. Equally alarming are the weaknesses within the new policies which are likely to encourage unnecessary urban sprawl and over-development."

Commenting on the situation which saw local councillors advised that they are not permitted to amend or oppose these vital local planning policies, Cllr Headley thundered:

"To have a situation whereby local councillors are advised that it is unlawful to vote against or amend a plan with such far-reaching consequences for the local area is absolutely disgraceful. Councillors were presented with a document full of a range of planning policies which will manage the future development and growth of this borough, and were told they must approve it or else they would be acting unlawfully. This is the democracy of a tin pot dictatorship."