Central Beds Council sell Stotfold farmland for development

An area of farmland at Stotfold is to be sold for development by Central Bedfordshire Council, after it deemed the site surplus to agricultural needs.

The disposal of land and buildings at Manor Farm was agreed by the council’s executive.

One of the council’s priorities to improve Central Bedfordshire is putting excess farm land and redundant agricultural buildings to a more effective residential use, according to a report to councillors.

“The recommended route for disposal is on the open market given the nature, site characteristics and location of the property, and to maximise the capital receipt,” said the report.

“The land and buildings were surplus to farming requirements, while the footway improvements will add to highway safety on Malthouse Lane.

“The disposal will contribute directly towards the capital receipts target in the council’s medium-term financial plan,” it added.

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Eugene Ghent said: “The surplus land and buildings were surrendered from the tenancy on March 30th 2017, when possession reverted to the local authority.

“Outline planning permission to build 14 homes and convert another building into two more properties was approved in November 2019.

“The planning consent is policy compliant regarding affordable housing and includes a condition for work on the footpath to improve highway safety.

“The site has been marketed by professional commercial agents to ensure the  best value is obtained and includes a provision for a share of a future uplift in value.

The disposal will generate a capital receipt for the council and contribute to new housing delivery in Stotfold.

“The best and final offers have been obtained, and the authority for disposal is now required,” added councillor Ghent, who’s the executive member for housing and assets.

“The site wasn’t considered suitable for transfer to the local authority’s housing revenue account (HRA) or its housing company New Vista Homes.”

The land was going to be marketed in the spring of 2021, but a decision to promote it in December was taken when the market was buoyant, he explained.

“Bids have now been received by a commercial property company, following the successful marketing exercise, and momentum is now the key to securing the sale.”

Conservative Stotfold and Langford councillor Steve Dixon thanked Cllr Ghent for providing the footpath.

“It might seem like a small thing, but it’s going to make an enormous difference to the connectivity to the riverside area for the town, so I’m very pleased and happy to second the proposal,” he said.

The executive unanimously approved authorising the disposal of land and buildings at Manor Farm.

And it agreed to delegate authority to the chief executive, the director of resources, councillor Ghent and the executive member for corporate resources, councillor David Shelvey, to complete the legal paperwork.