Public pressure pays off...
Faced with a packed public gallery, Mid Beds District Council voted to keep fields lying between the town and Flitwick Moor SSSI in the Green Belt, overruling the local planning inspector's recommendation.
Public interest at the June meeting was so great that the discussion even had to be relayed to a neighbouring room. The interest clearly paid off.
This battle has been fought since 1997. A developer's objection triggered a public inquiry, and the fields were removed from the Green Belt, making their future development probable. After much lobbying the council has reconsidered. But it's not over yet: June's decision has started a statutory public consultation period. The campaign is requiring considerable persistence.
The fields in question lie next to Flitwick Moor, an area of rare wetland likely to be compromised by development so close. This is not grounds for putting the land in the Green Belt, but CPRE Bedfordshire, working with the Greensand Trust, the local Wildlife Trust, and Flitwick Town Council, argued that its inclusion would serve to restrict sprawl, and the council agreed.
The same group of organisations called a public meeting in May to encourage the public to lobby, and this clearly affected the council. Its decision declares that 'the land is greatly valued by the local population', and that 'the council attaches significant weight to the desirability of safeguarding it'. CPRE Bedfordshire is encouraging public pressure in the current consultation and is working hard for a positive outcome.