Luton campaign group lashes out at Central Beds Council over affordable homes

A Luton campaign group has lashed out at a neighbouring council over affordable homes in the region.
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Luton Community Forum (LCF) took aim at Central Bedfordshire Council and accused the authority of failing to work with Luton Borough Council in its Local Plan.

Due to Luton's limited space, Central Bedfordshire is one of several neighbouring councils responsible for fulfilling Luton's unmet housing need.

A LCF spokesman said: "We are concerned that failing to agree on housing targets soon will leave desperate families in both local authority areas without adequate homes for years to come.

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"One single mother-of-three, who has no communal room in her two-bedroom rented house, told LCF she has spent the last five years trying to get adequate social housing for the family.

"She said, 'My 18-year-old son has ADHD, so we have to use our lounge as a bedroom for my younger son. The older boy has anger problems and it is very stressful for all of us in such a small space.'

"LCF is calling on Central Bedfordshire to reflect the increased need for social rent and affordable properties in its Local Plan and to work with Luton to provide them."

As supporting evidence, LCF cited two critical letters written by Luton Cllr Paul Castleman, portfolio holder for place and infrastructure, to Central Beds leader Cllr James Jamieson.

Cllr Castleman wrote: "There is considerable anxiety building around the perceived lack of transparency which I ask you to consider and remedy. With respect, I must remind you of your council’s legal duty for the ongoing cooperation on strategic cross boundary matters."

In response to LCF's criticism, a Central Bedfordshire Council spokesman said: “We have actively engaged with Luton Borough Council throughout the development of the Local Plan, this is a requirement of developing a local plan, called a 'Duty to Cooperate' and the plan would not have got to this stage if this duty had not been met.

“The Local Plan has included an additional 7,350 new homes in Central Bedfordshire to reflect the fact that Luton cannot meet their need, and the Plan has a requirement to provide 30% affordable housing on qualifying sites.

"Like our partner organisations, we are concerned about people who need affordable housing and there is always a higher demand than supply. While the Local Plan will provide additional affordable housing, the issue of access to this is not a Local Plan issue.

“We are pleased that the Local Plan has progressed to the Examination process this week, and look forward to the Plan progressing positively to provide the needs of our local communities.”