October 2019

Caddington Retirement Village

“DLP Planning Ltd has secured a resolution to grant Planning Permission, contrary to Officers recommendation and subject to legal agreement, for the construction of a Retirement Village of up to 200 apartment units with ancillary facilities in a ‘Village Core’ (swimming pool, spa, wellness suite, restaurant/bar and lounges, learning/education facilities and administration) on land within the Central Bedfordshire Green Belt, near Caddington, Bedfordshire.

The site comprises an area of around 4.8 hectares and contains Millfield House and the Cotswold Business Park as well as an undeveloped parcel of land. The site lies within the South Bedfordshire Green Belt and adjoins the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), both key considerations that dictated the approach to development and scheme design and which needed to be addressed during the planning process.

Members of the Planning Committee resolved to overturn the decision and resolved to approve the planning application which Members considered demonstrated a number of Very Special Circumstances, sufficient to warrant its approval. These included meeting an identified, significant local need for elderly accommodation within the District; delivery of affordable housing and a range of local community facilities; developing a part previously developed site; and a £100 million gross investment value scheme creating up to 80 jobs.

The village is to be built out and operated by Inspired Villages (L and G), who have contracted to acquire the land from the private owner”.

John HelyarCaddington Retirement Village
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A modern day example of “Doublethink” regarding Central Bedfordshire Local Plan Examination Inspectors Letter

To quote George Orwell…“You are a slow learner, Winston.”

“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”

“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

This is the experience you get reading the inspectors’ letter on the recent CBC LP exam and CBC’s response (which they got in first by publishing on the examination web site and sending out in email before releasing the inspectors letter). Our reading of the inspectors letter is that the plan is not sound and a substantial level of work is required including a new, not an amended, Sustainability Appraisal. This will, in the inspectors’ view, require a reopening of the examination and this is likely to include a re-examination of housing requirement and supply (in the submitted plan the OAN is much lower than the standard method LHN). Our reading of the letter is that the inspectors are suggesting it would be quicker and more appropriate to withdraw the plan and start again.

In terms of Small and Medium allocations inspectors have questioned deliverability and whether exceptional circumstances have been demonstrated to justify the alteration of Green Belt boundaries. At least -259 dwellings, and up to -835 dwellings have been identified for deletion from the proposed allocations.

The Inspectors also criticised of all four strategic housing allocations. The potential impact on the delivery of housing towards the Local Plans requirement is substantial with a maximum potential loss of -9,750 units forecast for delivery in the plan period to 2035.

The CBC web site however summarises the position quite differently as;

“This marks an important step forward in the thorough and comprehensive process of creating and agreeing the Local Plan….

 Whilst many critical areas of policy have been accepted without commentary, there are a number of areas which require some further work.”

We wonder if CBC working on the approach that;

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”

Given CBC’c criticism of the approach taken by the inspectors it will be interesting to see the next round of correspondence. In the meantime the planning system ability to achieve the governments aspirations of securing planned led growth for 300,000 dwellings a year remains a fiction.

Kerry TitmusA modern day example of “Doublethink” regarding Central Bedfordshire Local Plan Examination Inspectors Letter
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