Residents fear ‘congestion nightmare’ with plans for 400 new homes in Biggleswade

Biggleswade residents and councillors are concerned that a planning application for more than 400 new homes will leave the town suffocating in congested traffic.

The proposal, submitted by Hallam Land Management, is for up to 416 dwellings on Land North of Biggleswade including affordable housing and green infrastructure with landscaping, allotments, a community orchard, public open space, children’s playspace, new roads, car parking, cycleways and footways, and “associated infrastructure”.

The site plot is to the east of the railway line and Furzenhall Road would cut through it diagonally.

The site plot is to the east of the railway line and Furzenhall Road would cut through it diagonally.

However, councillors have told the Chronicle that the addition of potentially 800-plus family cars on the roads would not be welcome.

Cllr Dr Hayley Whitaker, of Central Bedfordshire Council claimed: “Hallam Land Management aims to get permission and then sell the land to a builder.

“But Furzenhall Road is already incredibly busy and with the addition of 400 homes this will only increase.

“We are a growing town and access to healthcare is also an issue. Ivel Medical Centre closed its books to new patients before Christmas, so only Saffron Health Partnership is taking new patients.

“Then there’s the Baden Powell Way, which has outline approval for 1,500 homes, and the Saxon Drive application for 200 homes.”

Cllr Whitaker also argued that although the land has been identified on the CBC 
Local Plan, the plan has not been approved yet, making the application “premature”.

Cllr Mark Knight, of Biggleswade Town Council, claimed: “Hallam’s exhibition, which they considered to be their consultation, was arranged for the first week of the school summer holidays between 3pm–7pm; there was not much of a window. I asked if they would consider an additional event, but they failed to do that.

“And submitting the application on Christmas Eve? I can’t believe that was an accident. It doesn’t build trust with the community.

“Section 5 of the access statement proposes chicanes and other traffic management features along Furzenhall Road. In my opinion, this is an acknowledgement that the proposal will have a significant adverse impact.

“Hallam probably could have submitted an application for 1,500 homes, but there would be far more focus on infrastructure.

“But the chances of being approved are greater if they put in smaller applications over time.”

Cllr Knight also claimed that other plans may make little difference.

For example, Hallam Land Management has proposed changes at junction of Drove Road/London Road (the removal of a bollard and addition of another lane) but Cllr Knight alleged that the road is already over-used and on a tight bend.

A total of 56 public responses have been received against the application and zero for.

In its Planning Statement, Hallam Land Management states: “It is acknowledged that the proposal conflicts with the adopted development plan in that it seeks permission for the provision of housing outside of the currently adopted settlement boundary of Biggleswade.

“However the emerging plan, which has allocated the application site for residential development, is at an advanced stage and is based on up to date evidence on housing needs. The need to ensure that Central Bedfordshire continues to deliver housing in a sustainable manner is considered to be a significant material consideration that justifies a departure from the adopted development plan.

“The proposal should be approved without delay because the proposal represents sustainable development, there are no clear reasons for refusing the scheme and any adverse impacts would not outweigh the benefits of providing dwellings in this sustainable location.”

A spokesman for Central Beds Council said: “We have extended the normal consultation period for this application to February 1 to make sure all residents are given as much opportunity as possible to comment. People can comment online on our website or in writing to any of our offices. We welcome views on all planning applications.”

To comment online, search CB/19/04301/OUT on the planning application section of the council website at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

The application is due to be discussed at the Biggleswade Town Council meeting on January 14.

Hallam Land Management was asked if it wanted to comment further on the application, but did not respond before our print deadline.