WESTONING PARISH COUNCIL
LETTER TO CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE SENT 27 FEBRUARY 2017
W E S T O N I N G
27 February 2017
The Local Plan Team
Central Bedfordshire Council
Call for Sites and the Local Plan Process
Westoning Parish Council is aware that 4 submissions of sites for residential development have been made in the village of Westoning following the 'Call for Sites' in 2014 and 2016. Three of these sites, NLP 136, NLP 317 and ALP 316 are quite large and each has the potential to accommodate a significant number of dwellings.
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.
WPC is concerned that the village of Westoning does not have the capacity to absorb a large scale development and requests that the following issues are taken fully into consideration when site allocations and planning applications in Westoning are considered.
- That Green Belt policies and restrictions on 'inappropriate' developments are maintained;
- Westoning Lower School has operated at near full capacity in recent years, although now has some spare capacity (approx 30 places). However, it 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 Recreation Ground which is insecure and is accessible to the public, constituting a potential risk to pupil safeguarding. This is a serious issue that has been identified by the Headteacher, the School's governing body and specifically mentioned in OFSTED reports.
- Westoning Village Hall is the only large community meeting space in the village, is over 170 years old, small, inflexible, and costly to maintain.
- 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. Urgent action is needed to reduce total traffic flow through the village or at least to reduce the number of HGVs. Additional speed limit enforcement throughout the 30 MPH zone should be implemented until other measures are put in place.
- 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.
In recent years, due to its position in the South Bedfordshire Green belt, Westoning has been spared from large scale developments. However, WPC recognises that this situation may not continue indefinitely. WPC strongly supports the retention and protection of the Green Belt, but if Westoning is required to accommodate any new dwellings through the Local Plan process WPC would like to ensure the following:
- 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 shops and pubs and to facilitate easier integration of the new residents into the community.
- That any future developments in Westoning should not exceed 70 to 80 additional dwellings and that any developments allowed within Westoning outside the Local Plan process between 01 January 2017 and the publication of the revision draft of the Local Plan should be deducted from any number of dwellings otherwise proposed through the Local Plan.
- That any future development contains a good mix of housing, including some affordable housing and if possible some assisted living dwellings for the elderly.
- That the needs of the village in respect of a burial ground, junior football pitches, a site for a new Village Hall and associated car parking for these facilities, are taken fully into account and made conditional to the selection of any site as a preferred development site.
- 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.
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 rail station, Westoning Lower School, village shops and the Flitwick Leisure Centre. When taken together, the draw factors for northbound traffic probably cancel out the advantages of a site to the south of the village being identified for development.
Bearing all the above matters in mind, while Westoning is not seeking or inviting additional development, should our village be required to accommodate additional housing through the local plan process, WPC would wish to express a preference for any new housing in the village to be located on a site that has the greatest potential to meet all our needs and requirements for community facilities. In Any proposal that did not include those provisions would be vigorously opposed.
WPC held a public meeting on 25 January 2017 to discuss these issues and to seek the views of the residents of the Parish. That meeting was attended by over 150 residents. The position outlined in the above letter reflects and takes into account many of the views expressed by parishioners at that meeting and subsequently through comments to WPC.
WPC will continue to engage with the residents and community groups in the village on these issues and will forward all relevant comments to CBC to assist in the preparation of the Local Plan.
J P Read
Clerk to the Council