Archaeological dig at Tempsford approved ahead of potential major road project

But resident fears it could lead to a 'Milton Keynes in Bedfordshire'

Monday, 12th April 2021, 12:43 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 12:44 pm
Central Beds Council's Chicksands offices
Central Beds Council's Chicksands offices

An archaeological dig at Tempsford has been approved ahead of a potential major road project, despite a warning it might pave the way for a Milton Keynes in Bedfordshire.

The site is agricultural grassland reached via a private road leading off Station Road, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee.

"It's linked to the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet project, which will be the subject of a development consent order to be submitted shortly," said the report.

The route of the A428 would be diverted from the Black Cat roundabout to Caxton Gibbet services, running through the site.

A second application was submitted for temporary permission for a site compound with 15 portable buildings and 30 parking spaces for archaeologists and site operatives throughout the excavation period.

The works are anticipated to last for a period of nine months, added the report.

Senior planning officer David Gauntlett told the committee: "The key feature is the East Coast Mainline railway, which runs along the western boundary.

"Access to the site will come through Tempsford village and over the railway line at a level crossing," he said. "The soil will be stored in two mounds."

Nearby resident Joe Lawrence described it as "a ruse", saying: "We're going to have a new railway station and a new road.

"This is all premeditated to have a big market town. I'm against any of this. I don't want a massive town dumped on my doorstep.

"Why don't we put nature before people?" he asked. "This won't be the new Milton Keynes for Bedfordshire on my watch."

Tempsford Parish Council objected over "a huge increase in traffic and noise on Station Road, the danger of the railway line being blocked, and a lack of a plan to put the site back to its original condition."

Adrian Besant, who chairs the council, said their main concern is the difficulty of the traffic travelling along Station Road.

"It's the main link from the A1, and the artery for the heavy traffic delivering cabins as well as every day works traffic of 30-40 vehicles.

"We've no objection to the work itself. We'll be quite interested in what they find.

"We've questioned the route chosen and suggested an alternative from Everton Road going across private land.

"But they looked at that and it was no better. Some of it's only farm track."

Acting agent on behalf of Highways England Chloe Evans said: "It will identify and record the extent of Iron Age and Roman occupation activity in that area, as part of the infrastructure scheme for the A428 upgrade.

"Temporary structures will be removed to ensure the long-term character and should the A428 scheme not proceed the site will be reinstated to its current condition.

"Highways England consulted the parish council and the number of daily journeys will be reduced to 26.

"The proposal ensures suitable archaeological investigation is undertaken and ensures items of historic interest aren't lost and are appropriately recorded for the future."

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "I'm deeply unhappy with the level of housing and amount of road building planned for this area.

"But that's a government decision. We can only do the best for our residents. It's a beautiful area of unspoiled countryside."