Roxton Parish Council: Cllr Wootton’s Update March 2017
Local Plan 2035
Since 2014 the Council has undertaken work towards its new Local Plan, setting out sites for development for thousands of new homes and employment growth to 2035.
At its meeting on the 22nd February, the Mayor’s Executive agreed the latest Local Plan document that will be subject to public consultation between 18th April – 2nd June.
The report provides an updated housing need target of 19,000 to meet estimated population growth. Just over half of this figure is already catered for via existing planning permissions or is included in existing plans. There is a need, therefore, for the Council to find sites for just over 8,000 new dwellings.
As we are all aware, the Council is pursuing an option to develop 1 or more new settlement(s) in the north of the Borough to accommodate around a quarter of this target. The document confirms that the sites in Wyboston, Sharnbrook, Twinwoods (between Milton Ernest and Thurleigh) and Thurleigh Airfield are being considered. One or more of these settlements could go forward and are likely to provide around 4,000 – 6,00 dwellings each (although it is thought that only 2,000 could be developed within the Local Plan period to 2035, thus contributing to reducing the 8,000 target).
Sites earmarked for development in the urban and edge of urban areas are set to accommodate just over 2,000 properties. In addition, a number of villages have been designated as having ‘Group 1’ status, namely: Wilstead; Bromham; Sharnbrook; Clapham, and; Great Barford and are all set to increase substantially in size with between 500 – 600 new properties in each. An allocation of 1,000 homes has been earmarked for the brownfield site at the former Stewartby brick works.
Group 2 villages across the Borough will see development of between 25 – 50 new homes. Included in Group 2 are: Carlton; Harrold; Milton Ernest; Oakley; Turvey, and; Roxton. Willington is also a Group 2 village but does not have a housing allocation.
The other villages are included in Groups 3 and 4. They do not have specific allocations but these communities may wish to bring forward sites for development through implementing Neighbourhood Plans.
As noted above, Roxton is in Group 2 and has an allocation under the current plans of between 25 – 50 new dwellings. The following table and map, taken from the report, provide an overview of potential sites for development in the village:
For more information see www.bedford.gov.uk/localplan2035
A428 / Black Cat Roundabout Improvements
Highways England has announced a consultation to be held between the 6th March – 23rd April on proposals to improve the Black Cat roundabout and provide a new dual carriageway to Caxton Gibbet.
The consultation document puts forward 3 options for consideration for the A428, as outlined below:
There are also 3 options to upgrade the Black Cat roundabout, set out in the consultation document which can be seen in the consultation document at this link: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a428-black-cat-to-caxton-gibbet/
Council Tax Resolution 2017/18
After the Council’s budget was agreed on the 1st February, a further meeting of all councillors on the 22nd February was required to agree formally the Borough’s Council Tax resolution for 2017/18.
This sets out how much each property Band in Bedford, Kempston and each parish will have to pay next year. The overall average Band D Council Tax (including: Council; Police; Fire Service; parish, and; Special Area Charge precepts) will be £1,704.11; a 4.26% rise on the current year. The total Band D Council Tax payment for Roxton will be £1,736.24.
Post-16 School Transport Policy
The Mayor’s Executive decided at its meeting on the 8th March to agree a change in the eligibility and fee for school transport for Sixth Form pupils from September 2017.
A public consultation was held between November – January on initial proposals to end the current subsidy for Post 16 pupils or to remove the option of school transport entirely. Either of these approaches were earmarked to achieve a £150k a year for the Council.
The final proposals agreed by the Executive will now narrow eligibility, meaning that pupils will only be able to access transport if they are attending their nearest school, as opposed to attendance at their catchment school as at present. This change will not apply to current Sixth Formers and a number of routes to Sharnbrook Upper School have been agreed as exceptions.
Those who are eligible to use school transport will also have to pay £890 per year to travel to school, as opposed to the current charge of £381. The current subsidy for low-income families will, however, be retained, which will see these pupils charged £190 a year.
Post 16 transport for Bedford College, Bedford 6th Form, Kimberley College and Shuttleworth College will be withdrawn entirely.
Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)
I have reported in recent months on the ongoing STP review of health and social care services across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) (Luton has its own Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for organising health services, and is therefore distinct from Bedfordshire in this context).
While all Borough councillors agree with the objectives of the STP, there is a feeling that councillors and indeed the public have yet to be included in determining the shape of the review in any meaningful way. As a result, councillors unanimously agreed a motion at the last meeting of the Council, calling on the STP leads to be more open about the plans.
There is particular concern around Priority 3, which is set to amalgamate services between Bedford, Milton Keynes and Luton & Dunstable Hospitals. It is unclear at this stage how this will effect services, or if a proposal from the now defunct Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review to transfer maternity services from Bedford Hospital to Milton Keynes Hospital will be taken forward. All councillors agreed, therefore, to request a commitment from the STP leads that key services, namely A & E, paediatrics and obstetrics (maternity and childbirth) will be retained at Bedford Hospital