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Government Seeks to Impose Massive, 'Pie-in-the-Sky' Housing Growth on Bedford Borough

October 2, 2009 4:36 PM
Dave Hodgson

Dave Hodgson has attacked the Government's plans to impose massive, 'pie-in-the-sky' house-building targets for Bedford Borough at the same time as cutting funds for essential local infrastructure

A report discussed at a public meeting in Bedford on Tuesday night reveals that the Government is proposing a further huge expansion of house building in the region, just weeks after it cut previously agreed funding intended to help Bedford and the Marston Vale cope with existing growth. The report published by the East of England Regional Assembly rejects the Government's proposal for targets of up to almost double current house building rates, stating that it would rely on large scale migration and jobs growth far beyond even the most optimistic projections.

The East of England Plan Review consultation report sets out the EERA's proposed 'scenarios' for development across the region until 2031. Bedford Borough is already scheduled to build 16,000 extra homes between 2001 and 2021, with EERA proposing 19,400 or 22,000 new homes for the Borough in the period 2011 - 2031. Each of these scenarios would require around 1,000 new homes to be built per year in the Borough, in spite of the fact that between 2001 and 2007 average house completions stood at just 592.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Dave Hodgson said: "For the Government to expect the rate of housing growth to almost double at the same time as it is cutting the funding for essential infrastructure by almost half beggars belief. Just weeks ago the Government unilaterally withdrew £3.4 million from essential schemes such as the Town Centre West redevelopment and the Western Bypass, even though this funding was agreed as part of the deal under which Bedford Borough takes an extra 16,000 homes by 2021. We need this vital infrastructure for local residents now, let alone for a massively increased population in the future.'

"I am glad that the regional assembly is consulting on a lower rate of growth than that asked for by the Government, but even these lower projections would depend on nearly doubling the local house building rate from before the credit crunch. We are already fighting to block the council's proposals to build on local green spaces and cause unwanted urban sprawl, in spite of the fact that enough development sites have already been identified. It's time for a bit of perspective, and a clear acknowledgement that essential improvements to the economic and social wellbeing of this Borough are needed before pie-in-the-sky house building targets are imposed."