The Mayor of Bedford and Bedford Borough Council in the Local Plan 2035 are proposing to build thousands of houses to the north of Bedford with a major new town of 4,500 homes at Colworth right next to Sharnbrook and Souldrop. The proposed new town, which would be the size of Ampthill or Irthlingborough, poses major problems for all residents of North Bedfordshire villages. The new town will generate significant c1650 additional car journeys every peak hour on the A6 which is double the current flow and which is already heavily congested, particularly at rush hours. As a consequence, there will also be significant growth in traffic on the small country roads across North Bedfordshire as people try to avoid the congestion on the A6. No consideration appears to have been given to the 2000 new homes planned just over the county border in Rushden, Northamptonshire or the further 900 at Irthlingborough. It is estimated that these developments will add up to 750 vehicles southbound per peak hour. No road improvements on the A6 have been proposed.
The Mayor is promising a new station at Colworth to take the pressure of traffic from the new town off the A6 but no firm plans have been agreed either with Network Rail or the train operators. It is not clear that it is a practicable site and other developments in the Borough were promised a station which never materialised such as Wixams.
We oppose this Plan and any large development along the A6 corridor in North Bedfordshire as there is a better suited site at Stewartby, which is in the south of the Borough. Stewartby has capacity for between 9000-12000 houses on mostly brownfield land and with much better access to road and rail transport routes such as the M1, A428 and the now approved East West rail links as recommended by the government’s National Infrastructure Commission and which our Mayor signed the Borough up to.
The proposal for a new town in North Bedfordshire will impact on many of the North Bedfordshire villages:
Sharnbrook: At least a 4500 house extension to the village of Sharnbrook, converting their 1000 houses to over 5500, which is 25% larger than the town of Ampthill. A large increase in vehicle movements through Sharnbrook with its very narrow High Street, particularly in the first few years of the new Town development when there will be no facilities within the development and people will come to the shops, pubs and post office in Sharnbrook.
Souldrop: Souldrop will be marooned on a large traffic island and ultimately become a suburb of the new town.
Milton Ernest: Will get increased traffic through their village.
Harrold, Odell, Poddington, Felmersham, Turvey, Carlton, Pavenham, Bromham, Oakley: the increased cars and commercial vehicles from the new Town will use routes through these villages to get West and South West.
Knotting, Melchbourne, Upper Dean, Lower Dean, Risely, Swineshead, Pertenhall, Thurleigh, Colmworth: the increased cars and commercial vehicles from the new Town will use routes through these villages to get to the East.
The Colworth proposal and major new housing in North Bedfordshire is unsound as it:
1. Will put unmanageable pressure on the A6 and the rural road system of North Bedfordshire;
2. Depends on a promise of a new parkway railway station at Colworth which may or may not happen and would draw in even more traffic from Northamptonshire and wider North Bedfordshire to its 1,000 car parking lot;
3. Is right next to Santa Pod racetrack which is a national and international sporting asset and creates substantial local employment but will mean the new town will live with regular noise pressure. No agreement has yet been reached with Santa Pod and contrary to what the Draft Local Plan document says, Santa Pod is not a partner in this.
4. Not all landowners whose land is required for the development have signed Heads of Terms with the developers.
5. Threatens protected wildlife sites, the Three Shires Way pathway, four major and 17 smaller ancient woodlands, heritage and archaeological sites and the wildlife and landscape for the North Bedfordshire Wolds.
This is about the future quality of life for everyone who lives in North Bedfordshire.
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