Community group gets tough over proposed new homes at Houghton Regis

Concern for wildlife and plant habitat at Windsor Drive field

By Bev Creagh
Friday, 12th November 2021, 1:36 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 3:09 pm

A local community group opposed to the building of 100 homes on Windsor Drive field in Houghton Regis is urging everyone affected to attend a special Central Bedfordshire Council informal listening event tomorrow (Saturday, November 13).

It wants to keep up the pressure on the council and has launched what it calls a 'shameless recruitment campaign' for active committee members.

Tough talking spokeswoman for the 550-strong Friends of the Windsor Drive Community Open Space Facebook group, Jo Anderson, said: "They certainly have a fight coming to them. Houghton Regis residents have had enough."

Kite flying is a popular pastime at Windsor Drive field

She added: "There's no planning application as yet. CBC intends doing a 'Planning for Real' event next Spring, then put one in. Our objective is to stop this before it gets to that stage.

"Houghton Regis has seen so much of its beautiful countryside consumed by houses and now they want to take this open space too.

"We understand the need for social housing - but not at the cost of our green spaces. There are brown sites, derelict garages and empty homes that could be used but they're plumbing for this because it's easier - the infrastructure is already there.

"We've been fighting them since March but they're not listening. We've submitted one of their own petitions with 600 signatures and currently have a change.org petition with more than 1,600 signatures.

Local teams enjoy practising football on the field

"Now that things are heating up with CBC's proposals for Windsor Drive, we're looking for people with a real passion for saving Houghton Regis, our open area and local community."

The group's aim is to keep the land a green space for the enjoyment of all residents.

Outside of Covid restrictions, it's used for football and rounders and even golf, as well as running club activities, exercise and dog walking.

It has also been a lifeline during the pandemic, providing the sort of environment that is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing during difficult times.

The green space has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic

The group is also concerned about potential harm to wildlife and plant habitats - the field covers part of the green corridor starting at Chalton Cross and stretching to the A5. It includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest - Dog Kennel Down, a rare chalk meadow.

The wooded area is home to a variety of wildlife such as foxes, badgers, black squirrels, bats, red kites, peregrine falcons and owls.

There is also worry about loss of habitat for swallows, swifts, skylarks and others.

The group is determined to ensure that CBC and Houghton Regis Town Council are aware of the strength of feeling towards any residential development on the space.

They're looking for people who'll be available tomorrow to be present at both the listening event at Houghton Hall Park Visitor Centre between 12noon and 5pm and at the Brook on Windsor Drive at 3pm when when a CBC team will be walking round the site.

> If you'd like to be involved or know more, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/800745957188375 and ask to join the group.