Luton has concerns over Central Bedfordshire’s ‘unsound’ housing plans

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Luton Borough Council has specific objections about its neighbour’s massive development plans.

The council’s executive is to consider a response to Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) Pre-Submission Plan at its meeting next Tuesday (February 20).

But in a report prepared by officers, it states the council has no choice but to object to several parts of the plan which they say are “unsound as they are not positively prepared, justified or effective.”

The CBC plan calls for up to 4,000 new homes and 20 hectares of employment land north of Luton, by the A6.

Luton’s report says it supports the proposals to help meet Luton’s unmet housing needs which is currently 7,350 new homes up to 2031 and backs the need to release Green Belt land.

But it states: “The plan does not build in sufficient fexibility to adapt to change”.

It added that Luton was fully committed to working with CBC but said “it must be stressed that it is reliant on CBC’s engagement and listening powers to the issues and concerns being raised by LBC in order to actively and constructively work together to address them in a neighbourly manner.”

LBC is pushing for significant affordable housing on the scheme which can be accessed by people within the Luton Housing Market Area.

The two boroughs have form on disagreeing on planning matters, although they are now working together to improve liaison under the Duty to Cooperate. In 2015 CBC was told by a planning inspector that its then local plan was not fit for purpose and advised the authority to withdraw it rather than have it rejected. He said CBC’s co-operation with LBC over development strategy “fell short of the required level”. CBC’s rift with LBC centred around plans for 5,150 homes in Houghton Regis, which were given outline planning consent in September 2014. LBC claimed its neighbour failed to cooperate over the development, though this argument was deemed to be “wholly unarguable” and “lacking in legal merit” by a High Court judge. The row set Luton taxpayers back £109,992 in legal fees, while CBC was also forced to foot a bill of £48,666.