The deadline to respond to this application has now passed
An application was recently submitted by L&Q Estates, the master developer for Wixams, to modify the “S106” obligations for the Wixams development. You should have received a letter from your council notifying you of the application, however the letter doesn’t directly identify the proposed changes and there have been comments made on social media from residents expressing their frustrations that they don’t understand what the letter is about.
This application is important and if approved could mean the loss or change to some of the much needed facilities planned for Wixams. This page should help you to understand what’s being proposed and gives guidance on how to have your say.
What is an S106 Agreement?
This application includes an advisory note from the planning department which states:
A s106 legal agreement is an agreement made between a planning authority and a developer and ensures certain works relating to an approved planning permission are undertaken or financial contributions are secured to offset the impact of the approved development on surrounding communities.
As Wixams is a town being built from the ground up the agreement was very comprehensive and outlined a vision for our town. Wixams is made up of 4 villages, each was meant to have its own identity and, apart from the town centre as part of village 3, each village was intended to have the same sets of facilities, including:
- Village halls
- Retail units including a local shop
- Recycling points
There have already been changes to the S106 agreement which took away these facilities for villages 2 and 4, as well as the removal of facilities planned for the town or town centre:
- A dedicated public library
- Business incubator units for start-ups
- A dedicated multi-faith facility
Why Do They Want to Change It Again?
This round of proposed changes looks to modify the agreement on the Sport, Recreation and Play Facilities, and Community Facilities. There are a lot of outstanding facilities yet to be built, particularly in village 3, and the developers would like to change the plans so that they are a better “fit for the community today” and meet the needs of the community in different ways to what was originally envisioned.
The planners at Bedford Borough Council attended the July Wixams Parish Council meeting and stated that the developers are making changes due to the way community facilities are managed by councils compared to when the S106 agreement was first made in 2006.
Why Should You Care?
Because it affects you. There are changes proposed in this application which have already caused a strong reaction from members of the community because they go directly against the needs of residents. You are urged to review this application and respond with your views. The more people who respond the more likely the application will be rejected and the developers will be forced to reconsider their proposals.
Statement of Community Involvement
When submitting applications for large developments the councils will often ask the developers to provide evidence that they involved the community in their planning process. They are asked to submit a ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ along with their application and this document should outline how they engaged with the community and what changes were made based on the responses from residents.
The letter from the Bedford Borough Council states:
This application follows an independent assessment commissioned by L&Q Estates, Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council and carried out by the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity to assess the need and type of community facilities for Wixams that are a fit for the community today.
For this application, which directly affects the community in multiple ways, the developers have not held a consultation event or even put out a survey asking for feedback on the needs of the community. The planning department have also not asked the developers to submit a Statement of Community Involvement. All the decisions have been made without the involvement of the people directly affected.
If you respond to this consultation it’s recommended you make comment about the lack of community involvement prior the application being submitted by the developers.
Public Consultation Event – 26th July
This event has now taken place
There are a lot of changes proposed in this application and it’s important that residents understand what’s included so they can have their say. At previous S106 consultations there were comments made about people not understanding what was proposed, so for this application the Wixams Residents’ Association asked the councils for better community engagement and to hold a public consultation.
Both Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council refused to hold a public consultation themselves. The association then lobbied the Wixams Parish Council who recognised the importance of community engagement and they have now set up a public consultation event on Wednesday 26th July. Residents are recommended to attend this event to find out more about the application and to express their views on how this application has been put forward.
What Do They Want to Change?
Both councils list this application on their own planning portals and you can access the details of this planning application from your council’s portal, the links are below.
Unsure which is your council? Check out this article from the Wixams Newsletter: Mapping Out Wixams – April 23
Bedford Borough Council
- Application main page: 22/02544/S106A
- Documents: edrms.bedford.gov.uk/SearchResults.aspx?appNumber=22/02544/S106A
Central Bedfordshire Council
- Application main page: CB/22/04477/SECM
- Documents: cbc.aifusion.io/planning/publicViewer.html?caseID=CB/22/04477/SECM
Main documents to review
The documents portal can be confusing so the key documents which outline the changes being proposed by the developers are listed below:
- 13th Deed of Variation to the Wixams S106 Agreement relating to revisions to the Community and Leisure Facilities Strategy (CLFS) – Defines the proposed changes
- 3007-1066 – Wixams S106 13th DoV – Community & Leisure Facility List & Locations – A map with the locations and list of proposed changes
- Advisory Note in relation to application 22/02544/S106A – Guidance from the planning department on the application
Proposed Changes Summary
The main changes proposed are listed below:
- There are plans for 3 Multi-Use Games Areas and 8 dedicated tennis courts, this proposal would reduce the number of dedicated tennis courts to 5 by delivering the other 3 as part of the MUGAs.
- The agreement currently states there should be 4 full sized grass football pitches and 2 all-weather / 3G pitches. With this proposal 3 grass pitches would be created in village 3, there is already a 3G pitch in village 1 near Harrier Leys and the grass pitch there would be converted to a 3G pitch too. This would mean residents would no longer be able to access the pitch without booking it and paying a fee to the Bedford Borough Council.
- There is an expansion programme to the Wixams Academy and with this proposal 1 pitch originally planned for Wixams itself would be built for the school instead and rented back to residents for a fee.
- There were plans for an ‘Educational interpretive facility’, whilst it’s not clear what that means this proposal would remove that facility and deems the boardwalks in the town park to be sufficient.
- 12 ‘Super’ Local Equipped Areas of Play (large play parks) were originally planned for Wixams, this would be reduced to 8. There would also be the addition of a “teen area” though it’s not defined what this would be.
- The planned village hall in village 2 would be reduced to a 250 m² ‘small community hub’ delivered as an extension to the village 2 changing rooms instead of a dedicated facility in the centre of the village.
- The planned village hall in village 4 would be reduced to a 250 m² ‘small community hub’ in the ‘Station Quarter’ instead of a in the centre of the village.
- The following facilities would be consolidated into a single community centre in the town centre:
- Town centre assembly hall
- Multi-faith facility
- Multi-purpose sports centre
How to Respond
To respond to this application you can use the planning portals above or email your planning department using the appropriate email below and quoting the application reference in brackets.
The deadline for comments is Tuesday 1st August
When responding to this application we suggest you make comment about how you have been consulted with on the proposed changes. You can also look at other comments published on the application to see what other people are saying to help you make your point.
Bedford Borough Council
firstname.lastname@example.org (ref: 22/02544/S106A)
Central Bedfordshire Council
Stuart.Kemp@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk (ref: CB/22/04477/SECM)
What Happens Next?
Due to the application impacting residents in both local authorities it will be determined by the Wixams Joint Development Control Committee (WJDCC). This is a committee made up of councillors from both councils.
In 2022 a proposal to change the retail facilities in villages 2 and 4 was met with strong objections by residents. When the WJDCC convened to vote on the changes the councillors who represented Wixams in their respective councils voted against the changes, but they were outnumbered by councillors who live elsewhere in Bedfordshire. To prevent councillors voting directly against the wishes of the community you may wish to contact the committee members and ask them to listen to residents when voting this time. You can find details of the committee membership here.
Wixams Residents’ Meetings
The Wixams Residents’ Association is hosting quarterly meetings for all residents in Wixams to come along and have their say. This meeting is attended by councillors and for the next meeting the new Mayor of Bedford Borough Tom Wootton has been invited.