Funding bid to bring major changes to Biggleswade

b10-771 Biggleswade town centre ENGPNL00120110523175044
b10-771 Biggleswade town centre ENGPNL00120110523175044

A £65m bid to secure a “hugely important investment for Biggleswade” is due to be made this month.

A case is being drawn up to obtain government money for infrastructure funding in the town, ahead of any planned housing growth.

Obtaining a share of the cash would improve the lives of Biggleswade residents, a meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive heard. Around 3,000 homes are planned for the town and a further 9,000 in the Ivel Valley as part of the Oxford to Cambridge growth corridor.

National investment in this area will include the East West Rail project, the Expressway road link and major improvements to the A1. The council is asking for the £65m from the national Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) programme, in competition with 45 other local authorities.

The council’s assistant director business and investment Kate McFarlane said:  “We have been working the last six to nine months in a co-development phase with Homes England and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“So the areas of development which will be included in that final strategic outcome business case are:

>power reinforcement, so increasing electricity capacity in that Biggleswade area;

>looking to improve the bridal crossing at Lindsells on the outskirts of the town;

>improvements to the railway station and local transport interchange;

>and finally how we increase education provision in the Biggleswade area.

The submission date is March 22.

Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham said: “This is a hugely important investment for Biggleswade. The town has seen massive housing growth over the last few years and perhaps somewhat limited additional infrastructure.

“So this is a huge opportunity to correct some of that imbalance and improve the lives of all the residents in the Biggleswade area, so I wholeheartedly support it.”

The report stated: “Initial assessments indicate that the proposals for Biggleswade will deliver a good level of value for money and can support a strong case for investment.

“Biggleswade is a growing market town situated within the Ivel Valley. Combined with Sandy and Tempsford, Biggleswade is an area of national strategic importance and a priority growth area.

“The Ivel Valley has delivered 2,381 properties, in the past three years, and commitments in the draft Local Plan will deliver around 9,000 new homes by 2035, of which about 3,000 will be located at Biggleswade. There are additional future growth areas identified near Tempsford and Biggleswade.

“These have the potential to deliver a further 15,000 homes, subject to the completion of major infrastructure projects, such as East West Rail and an upgraded A1 through Bedfordshire.”

The report to councillors says the town “is of significant interest to people looking to create their future family homes within a quality environment, and to companies looking for an affordable site within an ideal national transport radius”.

Any growth “must be sustainable and supported by transport, energy, power, water, green, social and other infrastructure to meet the needs of existing and future communities”, according to national planning policy and guidance.

“The Biggleswade town centre adopted strategy and masterplan 2011 sets out a vision that Biggleswade town centre will be a confident, distinctive and sustainable location.” The executive backed the bid.