Central Beds Council urged to restore historic stone bank near Ickwell as kerb installation 'looks like a motorway hardshoulder'

Residents allege that there was no public consultation and that no-one was informed about the kerb

By Joanna Gravett
Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 11:09 am

Ickwell residents are urging Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) to restore a historic stone bank on Warden Road, claiming that it now resembles "30 metres of motorway hard shoulder".

CBC recently carried out work to the middle section of bank, including the reshaping of the undergrowth and installation of a kerb, because it had been made aware of rocks and debris falling into the road.

However, residents claim that there has not been a serious accident in decades, and that instead of "destroying the infrastructure and the character of the bank", other traffic calming measures should have been introduced.

The kerb along the middle section of the Warden Road stone bank.

CBC told the Chronicle that there will be a further review of the bank this summer.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Tim Leitch said: "The narrowness has resulted in occasional car mirror clashes on loose stone in the last two years, but nothing to warrant the destruction of the bank."

Residents told the Chronicle that people felt as if democracy had "failed", arguing that there was no public consultation and said people first became aware of proposals to repair the bank after a meeting of Northill Parish Council in December 2019.

Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Frank Firth, of Northill Ward, presented five options for repairs to the Warden Road bank and it was agreed by the parish council hat "the reshaping of the undergrowth with plastic and mesh and seeding would be the best option."

Repairs to Warden Road stone bank.

Tim said: "We would like the bank reinstated to what it was. How can CBC Highways run roughshod through the area with indifference to the environment?"

The Chronicle was informed that it is not quite clear from existing maps whether the bank lies in or adjacent to the Ickwell Conservation Area.

Tim claimed: "The 2005 Village Plan and recent Neighbourhood Plan adopted by CBC under government requirement quoted and emphasised maintaining village character and infrastructure/biodiversity.

"Warden Road links the ancient villages of Northill, Ickwell and Old Warden, and all villages go back to the Doomsday period."

A Northill Parish Council spokeswoman, said: "Northill Parish Council have been concerned for some time about the deteriorating condition of the bank. Whilst NPC expressed a preference, the bank is owned by CBC. We were not appraised of any plans CBC were putting in place."

Cllr Frank Firth told the Chronicle: “Because of the road closure in Ickwell, Warden Road Bank has experienced higher volumes of traffic than usual, with vehicles frequently clipping the side causing rocks and debris to fall into the road. The council understands residents’ concerns and set out five different proposals for repairs. The most practical solution was to remove the pinch point by reprofiling the bank. Work was done on 30m of the 160m bank, which was considered to the worst section requiring repairs.”

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman, said: “We had been receiving concerns from residents, reporting damage to the historic bank and most recently we have been made aware of rocks and debris falling into the road. Unfortunately, with the location of the bank being on a narrow rural road, it is susceptible to damage from passing cars. We therefore undertook work on 30m of the 160m bank which was considered to be the worst section requiring work. We understand residents’ concerns, but this was the minimum needed to stabilise the bank and keep road users safe and it will naturalise over time."

The spokeswoman added that the council's highways team recently visited the bank to help it understand residents' concerns.

She said: "It was agreed that where appropriate, the council will carry works out sympathetically – such as working with a third party or local residents to carry out ecological surveys of the area."