Thank you to everyone who responded to my ‘Residents Survey’ in February. You’ll find a summary of responses below and an update from the public meeting hosted by the Parish Council at the Village Hall on 18th February, on how Aspley Guise residents feel about issues affecting the future of the village and Plan:MK.
Survey summary to date
The three most popular topics are summarised as follows:
A421: Respondents were not pleased that Central Beds Council (CBC) have failed to duel their section of the A421 whilst MK Council (MKC) have duelled theirs, because traffic affects us all – whether you are living on West Hill / Bedford Road, or a parent walking your child to school from the north. Respondents also supported CBC relinquishing control of the A421 to MKC, with some land around it, if this guarantees duelling.
There was also strong support for a major traffic calming scheme through the village: ideas included banning heavy goods vehicles, 20mph speed limits, etc. At the recent Plan:MK Exhibiton, our CBC Cllr (Budge Wells) stood up and announced that, in light of public feedback, he understood there was an issue and would outline a plan – by March – to introduce traffic calming. He also stated that at this point in time, CBC had no solution to the A421 beyond asking the government for funding to duel it.
CBC “in-fill” housing policy: Respondents declared Aspley Guise “full”, and expressed their displeasure toward the current “in-fill only” policy promoted by CBC, in their attempts to dissuade MK Expansion by banning development outside of the village. Respondents said they wanted a balanced approach, with greater protection for the village. Residents of Salford Road & Church Street reminded me of the in-fill construction behind Powage House that resulted in an unplanned closure of Church Street for two days and Police attendance.
Primary schooling: Some respondents told me that our excellent Lower School should cater for our children until the age of 11. CBC has no plans to change the school system and MK builds schools for its own children, but if you want to see your children remain at their Ofsted Outstanding local school until 11 then this is exactly the kind of positive feedback that CBC and MK needs to hear.
I’ve written a fuller summary of responses at https://aspleyguise.wordpress.com, and would still like to receive more feedback, particularly from residents of Mount Pleasant, Wood Lane and Salford Road, so please read the survey online and email me at TheManorAspleyGuise@gmail.com.
Plan:MK – so what’s the fuss about?
MKC is consulting with Aspley Guise over a piece of land north of the railway line. The land is largely farm land; it has a couple of footpaths that lead to the A421; the road running to Lower End has no footpath/lighting and a 60mph speed limit. The Parish Council refer to this land as the “Aspley Triangle”.
For those living south of the church, any development would have a minimal impact. Residents in this part of Aspley Guise are primarily using West Hill & Bedford Road to leave the village, particularly the people living south of these roads. And these residents are most affected by the A421 traffic problems that Plan:MK could solve.
For residents living north of the church, growth by MK in this direction would mean the village feeling closer to MK by 2031. Another factor for us all to consider is: by that time, the East West railway may well close Salford Road, so the land in question might be almost totally cut off from the village anyway.
And why is MKC talking to us?
MKC is obliged by law to consult with neighbouring Local Authorities on how to meet predicted growth. In turn, CBC is required to engage, in order for both Authorities to meet the area’s required growth, because many people want to live in Aspley Guise & work in MK. There is no requirement for the Authorities to agree.
The “5,000 homes” leaflet – a reality check
You will have received a leaflet stating MKC are planning to build 5,000 homes north of Aspley Guise. Whilst this leaflet looked anonymous, it was printed by the Parish Council. MKC Officers confirmed this figure was hypothetical and an indication of the consequences of uncontrolled development.
Failure to co-operate / respond positively
The risks of refusing to co-operate are clear, ie MK expands (by government decision) and we get nothing, because we’ve not asked for anything; or a developer (with deep pockets and lawyers) identifies the need for housing on the land north of Aspley Guise and obtains permission to build without offering any associated infrastructure; or MK expands on the other side of the M1 and public money destined for an A421 upgrade gets spent on a new M1 road bridge instead.
At the Plan:MK Exhibiton, one resident made a really good point by saying, “If the past is a pointer to the future, it is unacceptable for CBC to not co-operate”, ie it’s our village that will be further under siege from traffic and uncontrolled development if MKC & CBC do not work together to address our problems.
What do residents need to do?
My concern is that if MK is to expand, Aspley Guise gets something out of it. Such as, useful green space (a huge park) north of the railway line, with a foot bridge over the railway, allowing the land to be enjoyed by residents. Or the A421 being duelled. Or a redway to Woburn Sands. Or access to MK’s Ofsted Outstanding secondary schools. Or co-operation with MKC to reduce village “in-fill”. Or access to MK schools. Or all of those things!
Please respond to the consultation (email email@example.com) and make your views known. A copy of the survey, summary of my survey results and MKC’s questions can be found at https://aspleyguise.wordpress.com.
Remember, it’s fine to say “no thanks” to Plan:MK, but it’s important to also say “however if you must, I’d like to see X, Y and Z”.
And can I ask, do you feel that you’ve got sufficient information on CBC’s growth plans and local strategy, and how they will affect the village? If this would be of interest to enough people, I’ll see what I can find out and put information on my website or in a future leaflet.
Meet an MK Councillor to discuss expansion & Aspley Guise
At the recent Plan:MK Exhibiton, residents were unimpressed with MK Labour Councillor Mick Legg, portfolio holder for expansion, who didn’t turn up to answer questions. I have therefore sought tentative agreement from an MK Councillor to speak with us about MK expansion, the benefits & disadvantages, lessons learnt, etc. Please contact me to let me know if you’d be interested in attending and questioning an MK Councillor.
Potential development on land off Bedford Road
You may have heard of a proposal to build four homes on the land off Bedford Road, near the Lower School. The developer would like to hear from residents who have ideas on how the remaining land can be used for a community purpose.
Again, you may not want to see any development, but if it does go ahead, I would like to see a new permanent building for the local pre-school. This is run as a charity (not by CBC) and is currently housed in a (costly to heat) pre-fabricated building. I would also like to see proper parking and access for parents dropping and collecting children to school and pre-school.
So if you agree with me that it would be wonderful for the developer to make a contribution, in the event permission is granted for a few houses, then please respond to the developer by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Grand Union canal may come to Aspley Guise!
You may not be aware that, in 2011, CBC agreed with MKC that a canal (the “Bedford to MK waterway” project: http://www.b-mkwaterway.org.uk) can run through the “Aspley Triangle”, and CBC have drawn it onto their Local Development Framework planning maps.
If this project succeeds then residents will enjoy a fantastic new amenity to our area.
Finally, this leaflet was delivered by myself and a four year old boy, and we can’t reach everyone. So, if you fancy a leisurely walk delivering a few leaflets then please get in touch.