Bedford Borough Council
A development for up to 500 dwellings, a new primary school and associated retail and community facilities on this 96.9 acre site located to the east of Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire.
The site comprises an existing agricultural holding and following an introduction by the landowner’s agent, we entered into a Promotion Agreement with them in October 2018. At the time, Bedford Borough Council were preparing a new Local Plan that intended to direct 500 dwellings to the village, albeit the allocation of a specific site or sites to meet the requirement was to be undertaken through the subsequent Sharnbrook Neighbourhood Plan. Rosconn recognised the need to act quickly to raise the profile of the site through both the emerging Local and Neighbourhood Plans, so initiated work immediately to gather a comprehensive evidence base and develop a Concept Masterplan to demonstrate the site’s suitability to both the Borough and Parish Councils.
Following adoption of the Bedford Local Plan, Rosconn fully engaged with the Parish Council and other key local stakeholders and through an on-going and collaborative relationship, refined its draft proposals to ensure it fully aligned with local community aspirations. This culminated in the site being allocated within the Draft Neighbourhood Plan to meet the full housing requirement for the village in August 2020, and subsequently retained in the final version of the Plan published in January 2021. The Neighbourhood Plan Examination took place during the summer with the independent Examiner confirming the Plan, including the proposed allocation, had met the ‘basic conditions’ test and was able to proceed to referendum, subject to minor modifications. The referendum took place in October 2021 with 84.4% of the local community voting in favour of making the Neighbourhood Plan. The Sharnbrook Neighbourhood Plan was subsequently formally made by the Borough Council at its Executive meeting on 24th November.
Rosconn carried out extensive pre-application engagement with the Borough Planning and Highway Departments, alongside public consultation with the local community, in order to develop the Illustrative Masterplan which demonstrates high quality, sustainable, landscape-led development to secure a comprehensive, mixed-use scheme providing a full range of house types and tenures (including up to 150 affordable dwellings) centred around a community hub providing a new primary school, and retail and community floorspace. Extensive new woodland planting will also be provided throughout the site, alongside approximately 35 acres of open space comprising parkland, sports pitches, ecology park, allotments and children’s play space. A new roundabout from the A6 will provide direct access to the site, whilst a comprehensive network of pedestrian and cycle routes will connect the development to the nearby village centre.
Rosconn engaged with the landowners and their agent Bletsoes and agreed to market the site to a list of housebuilders. After a competitive marketing process, the successful party chosen to take the project forward was Bellway Homes, whereby an exchange and simultaneous completion of the site sale took place within 7 weeks of their selection as the preferred purchaser of the site. This successful marketing process was made possible by Rosconn’s effective promotion of the site, working closely with the local community to achieve a housing allocation for up to 500 homes in the ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plan alongside preparing an extensive technical package ready for an Outline Planning Application.
Bellway will imminently be submitting their planning application for the site and we look forward to seeing this high quality development taking shape in the coming years.