Writing the next chapter for the Marston Vale

20-year emerging plans shared with local people


Residents and businesses in the Marston Vale are being encouraged to take part in a community engagement programme over the next four weeks to give their views on long-term development in the area.

O&H Properties Ltd is running a comprehensive programme of engagement to understand and seek local residents’ ideas and suggestions for developing a series of new villages within the Marston Vale over the next 20 years.

Called Marston Valley, the proposals are for up to 5,000 homes and a new business park. It could also deliver a new waterway park connecting existing lakes, new woodland planting and large areas of green space while respecting the identity of neighbouring villages as separate entities. New jobs, new schools, leisure facilities, better public transport and more health facilities all feature in the plans.

Approximately 25% of the 566 hectares (1,399 acres) site would be developed for housing, at a medium density of 35 homes per hectare on average, about the same as the built-up areas of the existing villages nearby.

O&H has confirmed its priority to provide buffers between new and existing villages. Over 55% (more than 300 hectares of the site) will be green open space, allotments, orchards, nature areas, lakes and water.

Pippa Cheetham, Head of Planning for O&H Properties, said:

“Our vision is to create an exceptional living environment in the Vale where people will be proud to live and work, and will want to visit. Our scheme will promote healthy lifestyles with an emphasis on footpaths and cycle routes, and can provide housing to meet wide-ranging community needs.

“Marston Valley is about taking a strategic, long-term approach to planning for the wider needs of the area, not just building houses.

“But selling the land for up to 5,000 homes over the next 20 years not only provides much-needed homes for an expanding population, but also provides funding to pay for new facilities and strategic improvements in the Marston Vale which couldn’t otherwise be considered.

“Delivering Marston Valley as a comprehensive development is crucial to secure significant investment in infrastructure. Smaller scale or piecemeal development does not provide the same level of coordinated infrastructure. That’s why we need to have a bold vision for the future of the Vale.”

One of the potential examples of this investment is a new stretch of navigable waterway linking Brogborough and Stewartby Lakes as part of B&MK Waterway Trust’s plans to link the Grand Union Canal and the River Great Ouse. The waterway would bring significant opportunities for leisure, tourism and wildlife. It is also an integral part of the site’s sustainable drainage network, so is seen as a vital component of the Marston Valley infrastructure. It would be the first new English waterway in over 100 years.

The Marston Valley site has a draft allocation in Central Bedfordshire Council’s emerging Local Plan which is currently being consulted upon.

The area sits in the centre of nationally-significant road and rail infrastructure, including the new East-West Rail services. It is also at the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge Growth Corridor, an area that is recognised both nationally and internationally for its economic potential. No Green Belt land is affected, nor does any part of the proposed development site fall within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

To capture the public’s ideas and comments on the emerging proposals for Marston Valley, O&H has launched this website with details of the current ideas and a questionnaire.

In addition to O&H’s planned meetings with councillors, Parish Councils, local action groups and other community groups, it is also holding four public exhibitions for local people, to encourage them to offer their thoughts on the future of the area and O&H’s emerging proposals.

The exhibitions are taking place at:

  • Marston Moretaine Sports Pavilion on Monday 19 February from 2.30pm to 8.30pm
  • Lidlington Village Hall on Friday 23 February from 2.30pm to 8.30pm
  • Brogborough Village Hall on Monday 26 February from 2.30pm to 8.30pm
  • Millbrook Village Hall on Wednesday 28 February from 2.30pm to 8.30pm

Pippa Cheetham said:

“This phase of engagement is designed to allow local people to discuss our proposals, and to provide ideas, comment and feedback on the long-term needs of the area. It should also provide a greater understanding of what’s planned in the Vale following the Council’s Local Plan consultation.

“We are keen to capture local people’s views on a wide range of issues as part of the first stage of our ongoing engagement process.”

This opportunity to comment on the Marston Valley plans will run until Friday 2 March, with ongoing engagement with the local community continuing over the longer term.

O&H Properties is a major land owner, with land holdings exceeding 12,000 acres throughout England, mostly in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It has a long history of working in the Marston Vale, including gifting the land for the Forest of Marston Vale to be established 20 years ago.

O&H is not a housebuilder, but adopts a ‘master developer’ role. This means that it doesn’t build homes itself but puts in all the engineered and community infrastructure to enable a high-quality development. It takes a long-term approach to delivering value by building new communities which remain fantastic places to live, long into the future. It creates Design Codes and Site Briefs that are endorsed by local people and the local authority so that homes built by housebuilders are designed in accordance with the original vision.