Silsoe lies midway between Bedford and Luton, well situated with train links to London and Brighton from Flitwick station and easy connections to the motorway network via the A1(M) and M1. The 2001 census gave the population as 1729 which would have included students at the now closed Cranfield University site. With known planned developments of 144 houses for Miller Homes and the proposed development of 380 houses on the Cranfield University site as well as business units it is expected that the population will grow to just under 3000 within 10 years.

Silsoe has a variety of shops, a newsagent, hairdresser, Post Office, greengrocer and two estate agents as well as two public houses, The Old George and the Star and Garter. English Heritage are currently restoring the gardens at Wrest House which have national importance, in addition it is letting offices on the site and there are currently 21 businesses based there.

Why have a Parish Plan?

Silsoe’s Parish Plan based on residents views shows how they would like their village to develop, to identify key facilities and services, to set out the issues that need to be tackled and demonstrate how its distinctive features and services can be preserved, ensuring that the future of the Parish is improved for all residents.

The decision to create a Parish Plan for Silsoe

The Parish Council formed a Parish Plan Committee in 2006.

The committee consisted of villagers who would be able to provide time, expertise and assistance for the Plan’s production together with other key stakeholders.

Funding was obtained from Awards for All and DEFRA, with a contribution from the Parish Council.

Key events and consultation

  • First meeting and formulation of committee Jan/Feb 2006
  • Open Village Hall meeting, ‘Planning for Real’, to determine the main issues 30 April 2006
  • Environmental Village walk 30 April 2006
  • Consultations with businesses, village clubs, societies and other groups May – June 2006
  • Penalty Shoot Out and further parish consultation 16 July 2006
  • Analysis of consultation results July 2006
  • Formation of Village Design Statement Committee August 2006
  • Beds RCC Workshops on Parish Plan production October 2006
  • Open Committee meetings throughout 2006
  • Formation of Sub-committees to prepare sections of the main questionnaire August 2006
  • Questionnaire development & compilation August 2006 to March 2007
  • Funding raised from Awards for All. DEFRA and Silsoe Parish Council February 2007
  • Questionnaire delivered to Villagers March 2007
  • Analysis of Questionnaire response April to June 2007
  • Disco and consultation for 12-18 year olds at the Stumble Inn 14 July 2007
  • ‘Rave Bus’ - consultation for youth 17 October 2007
  • Preparation of draft Action Plan June 2007 to January 2008
  • Public meeting to present Action Plan and supplementary questionnaire 11 & 12 January 2008
  • Establishment of Youth Forum January 2008
  • Preparation of the Parish Plan report October 2007 to March 2008

Throughout the whole process meetings were held with Cranfield University and their Consultants, English Heritage, Mid Beds District Council , the Parish Council. and the village hall committee.

Comments received from meetings were as follows:

  • Planning for Real day - 220 suggestions
  • Penalty shoot out - 100 suggestions

The questionnaire

The Action Plan which was developed from the whole consultation process and especially the villagers views as expressed in the questionnaire, which was delivered to all 650 households. A total of 1025 people completed questionnaires which we estimate to be 73% of the permanent, eligible village population (Cranfield University students did not complete the questionnaire). The summary of the action plan follows the categories used in the Questionnaire. Each category begins with a “policy statement” which summarises the key points raised through the consultation exercise and acts as a focus or strategic aim for the specific projects or initiatives in the detailed Action Plan.

The initial section of the questionnaire sought information on the make up of the Parish at the time of the survey so that the Action Plan could be written for the Parish as a whole and not just a particular group.

The results show that

  • there are 51% men and 49% women in the Parish and

  • most of the population (59%) are older than 45 with 30% older than 60 years.

  • It is also evident that Silsoe is a place where many people feel at home with half the population having been here for more than 10 years.

Parish Plan Overview

The Action Plans shown on the following pages are based on the opinions and feedback from Silsoe parishioners through the questionnaire and public consultations. We have focussed the Action Plan on those issues where people voted in the greatest numbers and additionally have taken into account the proposed growth in the village over the next 10 years. A fuller version of this Parish Plan which includes more detail on the questionnaire results and the village history is available from the Clerk to the Parish Council (contact details are on the rear of Silsoe News) and has been distributed to other stakeholders such as Mid Bedfordshire District Council and interested parties.