Plans for almost 4k homes plus schools and sports facilities on greenbelt near Luton refused

An action group ‘No to Greenwoods New Town’ was set up in response to the plans
A map of the proposed development, showing Barton-le-Clay in the south westA map of the proposed development, showing Barton-le-Clay in the south west
A map of the proposed development, showing Barton-le-Clay in the south west

Controversial plans for nearly 4,000 homes, a local centre, schools and sports facilities in the greenbelt north of Luton have been refused, subject to appeal.

An action group ‘No to Greenwoods New Town’ was set up in response to the mixed development on land north of Higham Road and east of the A6 Bedford Road between Barton-le-Clay and Silsoe.

Greenwoods Central Bedfordshire Limited submitted outline plans to Central Bedfordshire Council for a new settlement with 3,750 properties, with up to 80 extra care apartments, and a care and nursing home of up to 70 bedrooms.

Its application included creating a local centre containing up to 600sqm of retail floorspace, up to 12,000sqm of employment use, a health centre and community building, as well as nursery provision, two primary schools and a secondary school.

Other aspects included a solar park, a landscaped communal amenity space, with a children’s play space and sports facilities, and 80 acres of woodland.

In rejecting the scheme, CBC’s assistant director development infrastructure Andrew Davie said: “This project represents inappropriate development in the greenbelt, resulting in substantial harm.

“By virtue of its scale and siting this would conflict with and undermine the adopted spatial strategy for Central Bedfordshire by introducing a substantial new settlement in an unsuitable, unsustainable, and harmful location.

“There would also be harm to the significance of a range of heritage assets, including the settings of Wrest Park and its listed buildings, and to the Wrest Park, Silsoe and Shillington conservation areas.

“Significant and wide-ranging harm would be caused to the landscape, including to the setting of the Chilterns National Landscape.

“It would result in the loss of a significant quantum of best and most versatile agricultural land, which has value in terms of food production, agricultural industry and the environment.

“And no evidence has been shown that the flood risk associated with the development would be acceptable.”

In a planning statement for the applicant, independent town planning and heritage consultancy Smith Jenkins Limited explained: “These proposals will provide a significant number of new homes.

“These would be in a wide variety of tenures, types and sizes to cater to all elements of the population and those with specific housing requirements, in particular older people.

“It would help meet housing requirements in Central Bedfordshire and Luton. The application site is close to Luton, in an area identified by CBC to best meet the town’s needs, and is well-located within the strategic highway network.

“The site is a sustainable location and the plans comprise an exemplar of sustainable development. This is entirely in keeping with CBC’s vision and strategic objectives, and will deliver an extensive range of other social, environmental and economic benefits.

“Construction work would create 592 jobs, with a further indirect generation of 1,006 jobs within the local and wider economy, as part of the supply chain.

“Spending by future residents could generate an extra average weekly expenditure in Central Bedfordshire of about £1.7m, equating to a net benefit of approximately £88.5m per annum.

“Around £7.5m in council tax could be raised and a new homes bonus of £23.5m achieved.”