“Bridge to nowhere” gets planning permission

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Location of the new bridge to nowhere in Biddenham (Mr Craven in the inset) Image: Screenshot by LDRS, Planning Committee - Monday, 14 August 2023
Location of the new bridge to nowhere in Biddenham (Mr Craven in the inset) Image: Screenshot by LDRS, Planning Committee - Monday, 14 August 2023

Bedford borough councillors have granted planning permission for a bridge linking a Biddenham housing development to a new country park – despite concerns over its suitability.

The bridge had been granted planning permission in 2019, but this expired due to “protracted discussions” with the highways authority.

During Monday’s Planning Committee, (August 14), Mark Craven, who was speaking on behalf of those objecting to the bridge, said: “[It] seems to me a bit of a bridge to nowhere, as the country park on the other side has not been developed, and it’s not being developed at the moment and I can’t see any plans as to what will be there.

“So we don’t know if [the bridge] would be sufficient or not.

“If you’re going to put in a bridge first either you will find by luck that the bridge is great, or you’ll find that it’s insufficient.

“Let’s not put the cart before the horse here, let’s figure out what that park is and what it needs, because otherwise it seems to me you’re taking a bit of pot luck.”

Gideon Richards, team leader of development management at the council, said: “It’s not that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the country park, there are approved details and actually some of the country park has been laid out.

“It is slightly complicated because the country park is owned by three different landowners.

“There’s more to be laid out, but we do have those approved details already so we do know where the bridge is going to land and what it’s going to access etc.,” he said.

The application report includes comments from objectors over car parking. One comment said: “No consideration has been made for cars being parked near the access areas via footpaths.

“The private parking spaces are likely to be overwhelmed with additional parking for people wishing to use the bridge to access the country park.

“Especially as the bridge will have access for people with disabilities who may wish to drive close to access the bridge and the country park.”

Parking was also raised by Mr Craven.

Mr Richards said the report acknowledged parking restrictions would prevent all parking and it wouldn’t stop people from driving to the residential roads.

“It’s realistic about that, but it is trying to limit [this] and make it safe as possible,” he said.

“And that’s why there’s parking [restrictions] and signage being proposed and on that basis, the highway officers have not raised any objections,” he said.

The committee agreed that planning permission should be granted, subject to appropriate safeguarding conditions, including details of materials, lighting, landscaping, waste and parking restrictions.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter