The Parish Council would like to thank all those that attended the recent public meeting on 12th Feb 2018 to discuss the Local Plan. Based on the comments and feedback received, the Parish Council have submitted a response to Central Bedfordshire Council - please see below.
We have also instructed for a traffic survey to be carried out to understand and quantify the volume of traffic flowing in/out the village. The traffic monitor device is in the process of being installed.
If you have any further questions, please contact the clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org
LETTER TO CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE COUNCIL SENT 20 FEBRUARY 2018
19 February 2018
The Local Plan Team
Central Bedfordshire Council
Local Plan Consultation Process
Please accept this submission as the response of Westoning Parish Council to the Consultation Draft of the Central Bedfordshire Council Local Plan published on 11 January 2018.
Westoning Parish Council (WPC) is aware that 2 sites have been identified for possible residential development on Green Belt land in the village of Westoning through the Local Plan process. HAS51 lies to the North of the village and is scheduled to accommodate 135 dwellings. HAS52 lies to the South of the village and is scheduled to accommodate 85 dwellings.
WPC is opposed to any new major residential housing development being located within the village, but if under the Local Plan this is deemed to be the case it does question the proposal
to allocate two sites in the village with an aggregate of 220 dwellings which would result in an increase of some 25% on the current number of dwellings.
The Local Plan defines 24 villages within Central Bedfordshire as being ‘Large Villages’, Westoning is one of these. No other Large Village within the Green Belt is scheduled to accommodate more than 141 dwellings, the average excluding Westoning being 33. Even outside the Green Belt only one Large Village, Houghton Conquest, is scheduled to accommodate more than Westoning but that development is a southern extension of the Wixams, distant from the village core. Excluding Houghton Conquest and Westoning, the average number of dwellings the other 22 Large Villages are scheduled to accommodate is 37. We believe the 220 dwellings scheduled for Westoning is totally disproportionate. We contend that this is not the ‘small-scale housing’ deemed appropriate for Large Villages in policy SP7.
Westoning has received a considerable amount of development over the past 50 years, including developments at:
Home Farm Way, Manor Park Drive, Newlands Road, Campion Road, Richmond Road, Tythe Barn Close, Kent Close, The Pygtle, Bryson Close, Howe's Lane, Bell Close, Highfields, De Sanford Court, Lovett Green, and Westoning Manor.
The cumulative effect of these developments has increased the number of dwellings in the parish by over 40% but, despite this considerable level of expansion, the new dwellings have been successfully absorbed and integrated into the community. WPC believes that this integration has been greatly facilitated by the fact that none of the individual developments exceeding 51 dwellings and none of the developments, with the exception of Lovett Green, being distant from or unconnected with the existing core of the village. The successful assimilation and integration of an additional 220 dwellings on sites that are on the perimeter of the village will be much more difficult to achieve.
WPC is concerned that the village of Westoning does not have the facilities or capacity to absorb any large scale developments and requests that the following issues are taken fully into consideration when site allocations and planning applications in Westoning are considered.
- Westoning Lower School occupies a landlocked site and therefore has no opportunity for further expansion or extension. The school has inadequate outside play areas and has to make use of part of the adjacent Recreation Ground which is accessible by the public, constituting a potential risk to pupil safeguarding. Although Westoning Lower School has operated with a number of pupil vacancies in recent years, the school has enhanced its overall provision on the same site by taking over and running the village Pre-School. To safeguard Westoning Lower School as a sustainable centre of education for the village, a new school on a new site should be planned with the potential capacity to offer education for pupils 2 – 11 years.
- Westoning Village Hall is the only community meeting place in the village, is over 170 years old, small, inflexible, costly to maintain and is in need of refurbishment. The charity that operates the village hall has considered the cost benefit analysis of a major re-furbishment of the current building versus a new build on another site. It is requested that a ‘significant contribution’ is made through Section 106 to the cost of the ‘full refurbishment costs of the existing village hall.
- Westoning has a shortfall of outdoor playing fields. The village has an active football section but youth football is limited by lack of sufficient playing pitches.
- Westoning is bisected by the A5120 which has some 20,000 vehicle movements each day. Developments in Ampthill, Flitwick and the Wixams are likely to increase traffic volumes through the village unless traffic management measures are implemented to reduce the impact of additional housing as a temporary measure, while representations need to be made to Central Government for the inclusion of a new road to bypass Flitwick and Westoning within the next 10 years.
- The village burial ground has fewer than 10 burial plots remaining and the Parish Council has been actively searching for a suitable site for a new burial ground for over 10 years. The provision of a new burial ground in an accessible location in the village is now urgent.
If Westoning is required to accommodate a significant number of new dwellings through the Local Plan process, WPC would like to ensure that the following community benefits are included as a condition of including either or both sites as allocation sites.
- That any future development is located on a site that is well connected to the village to limit the need for car journeys to the school, sports and recreation facilities, village hall, village shops and pubs and to facilitate easier integration of the new residents into the community.
- Any new development should include access to and from the A5120 in such a way as to avoid queuing or interruption to the smooth flow of traffic through the village.
- That any future development does not exceed 80 dwellings.
- That any future development contains a good mix of housing, including some affordable housing and, if possible, some single storey and assisted living dwellings for the elderly.
- That the needs of the village in respect of a new burial ground, 2 junior football pitches and associated parking and that a significant contribution is made through Section 106 to the cost of the ‘full refurbishment’ costs of the existing village hall are included and made conditional on the selection of any site or sites as allocated development site(s).
- That traffic management measures are implemented so that Westoning residents in all parts of the village can gain access to and from the A5120 easily and safely, particularly during peak times, until a longer term solution to traffic flow through the village can be provided through the provision of a by-pass.
- That any decision takes account of any wildlife habitat that may be affected by such development.
The impact on traffic volumes through the village is a major concern for many residents. While a simplistic view might suggest that a site to the south of the village would allow traffic from the site to access J 12 without passing through the village, there are many factors that would tend to draw traffic north, including employment areas in Flitwick and Bedford, the supermarkets of Tesco and Waitrose, Flitwick mainline rail station, Westoning Lower School, village shops and the newly constructed Flitwick Leisure Centre. When taken together, the draw factors for north bound traffic probably cancel out any advantages of a site to the south of the village.
Bearing all the above matters in mind, should Westoning be required to accommodate additional housing through the local plan process, WPC would hope that any new housing in the village would be located on a site that has the greatest potential to meet all the needs and requirements of the village. Any proposal that did not include those provisions would be vigorously opposed.
WPC held a public meeting on 25 January 2017 to discuss potential growth in the village and to seek the views of the residents of the Parish. That meeting was attended by over 130 residents. Following the publication of the Consultation Draft of the Local Plan, WPC held another public meeting on 12 February 2018 which was attended by 92 residents. The position outlined in this submission reflects, and takes fully into account, the views expressed by parishioners at those meetings.
Clerk to the Council