Mayor Dave Hodgson's Executive has taken action to remove Freemans Common on Cleat Hill from council plans for housing development following a request by
Councillor Charles Royden. The move was supported unanimously but has attracted fierce criticism from conservatives who tried to stop the decision and demanded that it be considered again by another council committee.
Charles Royden said,
'An independent government planning inspector specifically excluded this land for development and it was removed last time round when I made this point to the previous Mayor Frank Branston. It is madness that the conservatives called for a gypsy and traveller site in Hawk Drive and now they want to include this land for planned housing development.'
Wendy Rider and Charles Royden have been long standing campaigners against the development of Freemans Common in Brickhill. Our ‘No More Bricks in Brickhill’ campaign opposed more housing on this important green space which stretches across the rear of Hamble Road and up Cleat Hill.
The conservatives are attacked the decision to remove Cleat Hill from housing development and the was heard at the scrutiny committee on Thursday 30 March 2017. Liberal Democrat Councillors Charles Royden and Wendy Rider have previously successfully opposed plans to develop land off Cleat Hill from further housing development. The Liberal Democrat Campaign started in 2008 when several schemes were put forward which we showed to be entirely unsuitable. We will continue to oppose plans to develop Freemans Common on this important south facing meadow which is so important for our community.
It is often said that people are ‘nimbies,’ opposing building with the concept ‘not in my back yard.’ However our opposition is supported by Mr Philip Major, the independent Government Inspector who submitted his report on the last proposals to build houses in Brickhill in 2002.
He clearly envisaged a wide division of green open space separating Brickhill from the surrounding houses on Cleat Hill. He opposed any attempt to break through the hedgerow on Kimbolton Road. The following text is taken from paragraph 70 of his report -
‘It was suggested by a number of parties at the inquiry that an alternative access should be provided across Freemans Common, linking with the B660, Kimbolton Road, to the east. In my judgement this would be unacceptable for two main reasons. First the driving of an access from the B660 would entail the removal of a significant part of the hedgerow which runs adjacent to the road. This hedgerow is a notable element of the open feel created by the gap in the development on the west side of Cleat Hill. To create an access here would not only harm the appearance of this part of Freemans Common, but would also largely remove the gap separating the hamlet of Cleat Hill from Bedford. The assimilation of Cleat Hill into the urban fabric in this way would, in my view, destroy the feeling of space which currently exists in this locality, and be harmful to the character of the area’
Report to the secretary of State for Transport, local Government and the Regions by Philip Major BA (Hons) Dip TP MRTPI. Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.