Thanks for your follow-up email dated 19thJanuary 2017 regarding the Central Bedfordshire Council Budget (2017-2021) Consultation.
As previously identified, it is not considered that there is any discrepancy in the estimated costs of the M1-A6 Link Road. Rather, the initial thoughts on the potential costs were identified based upon the most relevant and up to date information available at that time. Since then, further work has been undertaken and a revised cost of £55.855m has been identified and this is therefore, the amount identified within the Council’s Capital requirements for 2017-2021 as it is considered to be the cost of the scheme at the current time. As previously identified, £11 million towards the cost of the scheme has been secured through the Local Growth Fund (Round 2) and is guaranteed, and a further £31m is currently being sought through Round 3 – we are awaiting a Ministerial announcement on this which is expected to be made in February. Work to identify the final costs of the road are still ongoing, however, the remaining scheme costs would be reclaimed through developer funding and will not ultimately be paid by the Council.
The M1-A6 road scheme is a priority piece of infrastructure identified by Central Bedfordshire Council as needing to be in place in order for housing to be delivered within that location, and as such it has been identified as ‘critical’ within the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. The scheme, which is also above a recognised £20m threshold and therefore a DfT retained scheme, is also deemed to be strategic by DfT as it supports the delivery of housing growth and employment. It is further supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).
With regards to CIL, as previously commented, we are currently awaiting the outcome of the CIL review which is still underway but which is expected to identify significant changes to the CIL regulations. Further, it is not possible to adopt a CIL charge without having a Local Plan also in place. In relation to the 0% charge previously identified by the Council, this was applied to the strategic large-scale, mixed use developments identified within the Development Strategy, including North Houghton Regis. However, that does not mean that new infrastructure required as a result of development, or any wider community benefits would not be realised. These are to be provided directly by the developer through Section 106 Agreements. It is also worthy to note that developer contributions as a result of the North Houghton Regis development has provided a significant quantum of funding towards the A5-M1 link road, the new Junction 11a and the new Woodside Link – these not only allow the delivery of much needed housing growth within the southern part of Central Bedfordshire, but also enable significant improvements to be made to Dunstable town centre which will undoubtedly improve the quality of the environment for both existing and future communities as well as shoppers and visitors to the area.
In relation to the 5 year housing land supply, the Council is very close to achieving this through permitting developments which are considered to be policy compliant and in a sustainable location. By permitting appropriate developments and achieving a 5 year supply, the Council is in a much better position to refuse schemes that are not considered appropriate, are in unsustainable locations or are not policy compliant.