'Once in a generation' employment site in Biggleswade will be sold - potentially netting tens of millions of pounds for council

"I don’t think its unreasonable for Biggleswade to ask for its fair share of that”
The location of the siteThe location of the site
The location of the site

The sale of “a once in a generation” employment site at Biggleswade is set to proceed, eventually netting a local authority tens of millions of pounds.

Holme Farm is on land owned by Central Bedfordshire Council to the south of the town, and is allocated for industrial use in its Local Plan.

CBC acquired the adjacent land between Holme Farm and the A1 last year, according to a report to its executive.

“Development here will generate construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities, as well as extending the connectivity of the Biggleswade Green Wheel, said the report.

Independent Biggleswade West councillor Steve Watkins explained: “This is a once in a generation employment site, and one of the largest in the UK.

“There are 155 acres of employment land, 94 acres of which will be warehousing and up to 61 acres of other business uses, with 37 acres of landscaping. This will provide opportunities for more local employment and sustainable transport links, which is key to the proposal.

“There’s great investment locally, such as the super grid development, spending on schools and I’m exploring options to complement the forthcoming expenditure on Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre.”

Conservative Biggleswade East councillor Grant Fage described himself as “supportive” of the decision, saying: “This site is a little forgotten about in the town, as there are two contentious large planning applications for housing.

“We’re talking tens of millions of pounds for this council. I don’t think its unreasonable for Biggleswade to ask for its fair share of that.

“It would have benefit with job creation. I expect the disposal is looking over the next 18 months or so, when interest rates fall and prices pick up.

“Some of that investment Biggleswade has been asking for could hopefully be brought forward sooner. I’d like to work with councillor Watkins and others to see what could be in the pipeline and how we could start to action that quickly.

“There’s not much land or green space left after this in the town, which isn’t earmarked for development.”

Independent Biggleswade West councillor Hayley Whitaker said: “We’d all love to have green space around us that we can explore.

“It’s important residents appreciate this site is for employment use, not for thousands of new houses. There’s genuine concern locally this could turn into 1,000 homes. That would require significant change to the current Local Plan.

“The potential for those jobs on such a significant site, so close to the town and the A1, is exciting for Biggleswade and something we should be embracing.

“Although we’re losing that piece of land, it’ll bring a footbridge potentially over the A1, which will allow our residents to access more green space further out.”

Executive member for business, housing and public assets councillor Watkins added: “With the right infrastructure, it’s something residents will welcome.

“It should be less controversial than housing. I can’t ring-fence money from this scheme for Biggleswade directly. I accept the principle where towns which generate money should have that reinvested in those areas.”

The committee agreed to authorise the sale of Holme Farm.