The following is a summary of some of the conversations and views expressed by people in the community opposed to the development.
Please note that many of the objections below are specific to the application at Eaton Park. For other developments, please see the relevant pages.
IMPORTANT Please do not copy and paste any of these comments into your objection. It will make your objection invalid.
How to make an effective objection:
Writing in your own words, share your personal perspective and focus on the two or three things you feel most strongly about. This will carry weight in the objection process. Although the impact to your house price or losing your view of the countryside may be important to you, they are not considered to be worthy objections and should be avoided.
Note that every member of your household – regardless of age – is entitled to make an objection. Just ensure that first and surname are included.
PART OF OUR COUNTRYSIDE
Destruction of the Green Belt is an incremental process. Although the site is set back from the High Street, this area is considered by people in the village to be part of the countryside. The site is actively used for agricultural purposes including the grazing of sheep and lambs. Although the owners may decide to neglect the land, hedges, trees etc. in order to make a better case for development, it does not make it any less a part of our countryside or the Green Belt.
The development is unsustainable
Most services in Eaton Bray are shared with the neighbouring/adjoining village of Edlesborough. Over 200 new dwellings are currently being built or have been approved to be built as part of the recently adopted Edlesborough Neighbourhood Plan. This new development will add significantly to the demand for services:
- The local doctors’ surgery is already overstretched. Many patients are asked to go to their Pitstone surgery. This surgery is 6 miles away.
- The pressure on the local schools – Eaton Bray Academy only has a limited number of spaces and in some years’ it is approaching its maximum capacity
- There is only a limited amount of nearby local shopping available in a small convenience store, and there is no supermarket. Therefore, residents must either use their own vehicles or resort to internet shopping, thereby increasing the volume of commercial vehicles on small rural roads
The proposal is not sustainable development. It will not improve the economic, social or environmental conditions in the area and it will have a negative impact on landscape character and biodiversity.
The generic points the proposal makes could have been copied from any speculative Green Belt (or Brownfield) proposal. It would be impossible for a housing development to have anything but a negative impact on the landscape, character and biodiversity or the area when compared to the countryside that already exists.
Central Beds Council’s sustainable transport policy requires developments to ensure that residents can use public transport as a realistic alternative to use of the car. There is no way that either of the bus services in Eaton Bray can be considered a realistic alternative to use of the car.
There are only two bus services in the village, one is only every 90 minutes and the other isn’t even a daily service. There is no bus service to Leighton Buzzard Station at times to suit commuters. So again, people will need to drive their cars.
There are limited services to support working hours, and the infrequency of the schedule does not support accessing any services, including hospitals and supermarkets, outside of the village. There are even fewer buses at the weekend.
We estimate this development will generate an additional 85 to 120 cars in the village, all of which will have to exit the development onto the High Street at a point that is already severely congested, especially at peak periods. The Traffic Surveys carried out for the Developer were completed in April 2016, a year before the new M1 Junction 11A and link road were opened. This caused a significant increase in through-traffic which can be witnessed every day, and not just at peak periods. And of course, the 200+ houses being built in Edlesborough will increase traffic in Eaton Bray. How long before there is a serious accident? One child knocked down is one too many.
CYCLING AND OTHER TRANSPORT METHODS
Given the rural location, the surrounding 60mph country lanes and no cycleways, it is impractical to expect workers, families or the elderly to cycle to nearby towns. Through the winter it would be reckless. For this reason, virtually all travel to and from the village is by private car.
The cost of taxis in this rural area is prohibitive for many residents. A return trip to supermarkets in either Leighton Buzzard or Dunstable would be approximately £15-£20 each way. Either the Luton & Dunstable Hospital or Stoke Mandeville Hospital would be considerably more.
- Like many villages, Eaton Bray has a small convenience store, public house and school. The neighbouring village also has a doctor’s surgery. Although they are valued by the local community, access to basic services cannot be considered exceptional. The shops provide only basic provisions.
- The services we have in our village are already under pressure from the current residents. With an aging population and significant housing developments in Edlesborough this pressure is increasing. It is already difficult to get doctors appointments. Even though the surgery has an Edlesborough location, many patients are asked to go to their Pitstone surgery, which is 6 miles away.
- Our local schools have virtually no spare capacity. The majority of planned houses are family homes. With the UK average of 1.7 children per family, over 80 children would need to be accommodated in our local schools. Eaton Bray Academy Primary School is approaching its capacity. Edlesborough School already has limited space and is under pressure from their own housing developments.
- In a rural location, with poor public transport there are no easily accessible Secondary schools. Every secondary school within a 7-mile radius of this development (30 schools) is marked as oversubscribed.
Loss of wildlife habitat
The planning application includes an “Ecological Impact Assessment”. Conducted on behalf of the developer, Willis Dawson. The assessment states:
“An extended Phase 1 habitat survey of the survey area was undertaken in November 2015 with a further check undertaken in November 2017. Whilst these surveys are considered to be outside of the accepted optimum period for undertaking habitat surveys, it is considered that a robust assessment was still possible on the based on the habitats present.”
It is hardly surprising that a wildlife observation study performed in November will yield a result of few sightings. This study was clearly set up to produce a result favourable to the developer. Residents report sightings of numerous species of wildlife. Owls – including barn owls, bats, red kites, badgers and numerous other birds and small mammals.
The proposal is completely dismissive of the harm that will be done to this wildlife habitat and seeks to claim there will be negligible damage. A derisory contribution of 4 bat boxes and 4 bird boxes is proposed by the developer which will add nothing to the habitat protection for the area, which is a home and foraging area for several species including some which are protected. Once the habitat is destroyed by the development process the wildlife is very unlikely to return to an area then occupied by human residents.
Land is subject to Flooding
The land is subject to frequent flooding especially in the winter and spring when a lot of rain is experienced. Development of this site will exacerbate the situation for existing residents of Eaton Park and the High Street as there will be even more run-off. The storm water attenuation basin proposed as part of the plan is not considered to be adequate provision.
CONTRAVENES POLICIES EATON BRAY’S NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
This application has been strategically submitted before the plan could be finalised. However, the emerging Eaton Bray Neighbourhood Plan was approved by the Parish Council on 3rd December for submission to the CBC. One of the key objectives of the Neighbourhood plan is “To protect the Green Belt with its present boundaries”
The proposed Eaton Park development also contravenes the following policies:
- EB8 Local Gaps – to ensure the retention of the open character of the landscape – a development of this scale is clearly not retaining the character of the landscape.
- EB13 Sustainability – it does not contain any of the sustainable/renewable energy requirements. There is no energy study as required.
- EB14 – Housing mix – large 4-bedroom style houses are not supported by the village as there is no need for this type of housing. Approximately 50% of the current housing stock in the village is of 3, 4 and 4+ bedroom houses.
It is also important to remember that in the response to the Neighbourhood Plan consultation, in the context of considering any future housing in Eaton Bray, 88% of the respondents endorsed the “Protection of the Green Belt”. Aside from traffic and transport issues, the overall conclusion of the survey was to protect the Green Belt and preserve Eaton Bray as a village without more large housing developments.
There are limited employment opportunities in the local area and building in this geographic location does not provide any unique benefit to local employers. Companies within Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable and Milton Keynes already have significant housing development to fulfil their needs and the public transport system does not support commuting from Eaton Bray to these locations.
Given the location of Eaton Bray at the fringe of the county, and the growing congestion in Dunstable, make it impractical for Eaton Bray to contribute to the employment needs of Luton and central Bedfordshire. If the ultimate objective is to support businesses in Bedfordshire, Eaton Bray provides substantially lower benefits than any other site to the east of the M1.
WHAT COULD BE NEXT?
Any form of development on Green Belt will ‘open the floodgates’ and attract more developers to the village. We’ve recently had the Bower Lane proposal for 120+ houses and there are also sites on The Rye under threat.
Consider this. There is more Green Belt land for another development to the South East of the Eaton Park proposal. That’s a very big field that runs behind Medley Close and Bower Lane all the way past the cemetery. There are access roads into it clearly shown on the Eaton Park Proposal. Eaton Bray could slowly be merged with Totternhoe and both villages will lose their quite separate and unique identities. And possibly, after that there will be no fields between Eaton Bray and Dunstable. Make no mistake, this could happen.
How many other fields will follow if this Application goes through? 1, 2, 3, 4 – all of them? They’re all Green Belt land and have all been identified as potential development sites.
It’s your right to object, so please think about how you’d feel if Eaton Bray gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. The development of The Rye has been stopped, for the time being anyway. We are still waiting to hear about Bower Lane.
Development of brownfield sites will allow the village to accommodate a suitable number of additional houses in relation to its status and amenities without any adverse effects on anyone or using Green Belt.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please spend another 10 or 15 minutes to object. The future of Eaton Bray is in your hands.
Click HERE to view the full application
Click HERE to submit your objection
If you have any additional viewpoint that that we haven’t included but you’d like to share with the community then please contact us.