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New Housing

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The 26,000 houses of South Bedfordshire are now fixed in national law. If they do not go to Leighton Buzzard they will go to Houghton Regis and to the North of Luton which is an area of outstanding natural beauty.  

Housing numbers are fixed at a national and regional level.  From 2003 to 2005 we fought these numbers through the planning system for the Milton Keynes South Midlands sub-regional strategy

At the same time Dunstable Town council organised a petition of 17,000 signatories from across South Bedfordshire which was handed into parliament.

The Linslade Western Bypass was funded partly in order to support the new housing for the area yet the opposition to it was very small. Then in April 2005 the 26,000 houses across South Bedfordshire became law and from that moment unless groups across the country formed a national campaign to change government policy as the anti roads movement did in the 1990s then it became impossible to stop the housing. 

 2005 SBFoE Campaign

At a public meeting last year we explained that it was only a national campaign which could stop the housing numbers not the core strategy. The core strategy is the opportunity to get the most from our new development for Leighton Buzzard in supporting the town centre, giving us a decent bus service, and improving our green space for wildlife and for children.

We have waited to support the development on the East until the million pounds from government was formally announced for the south of Leighton Buzzard, which triggers the six million pounds mainly from the developers.  This development will  provide a really good the bus service from the south of the town to the railway station, produce 20% less car trips than normal and considerably improve the cycle network. Arnold Whites are also producing new playing fields for the town and the housing will be of a very high environmental standard. These are in legally binding agreements. Compared with many other developers, Arnold Whites do consider environmental issues. Therefore it is extremely likely that the eastern development will be of a very high standard.

At the moment it is only an area in the core strategy,  (the overall plan for South Bedfordshire). Later, a detailed plan of what the estate will look like will come out for public consultation and that is where we make sure that it is to the highest standards. Indeed, if the developers try to build more estates like Sandhills, then we would be the first to stand in front of the bulldozers.

South Beds FoE are still fighting to stop increases to the housing numbers at regional level where there is a chance of succeeding. The regional spatial strategy for the East of England has plans for at least another 1500 houses for South Bedfordshire in addition to the statutory 26,000 houses.

We have legally challenged the government over this using environmental law. Stop Harlow North and national Friends of the Earth have also joined in this challenge, and as a result the plans have been held up and the 1500 houses could still be stopped.

Even if there was no housing, we could still loose our market which has been getting smaller since Wendy Fair markets took over and the town centre could just end up with only charity shops and banks and we would have even less public transport and more congestion due the housing in the rest of south Bedfordshire. We need to concentrate our energies on supporting our markets and our town centre, getting real alternatives to using our cars; renewable energy and creating Greenspaces that really support our wildlife.

That means telling your councillors that you care about these things. Unless we change fast and lead the way on reducing our carbon emissions we are creating a terrible legacy for our children.

South Beds FoE Coordinator Victoria Harvey

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