The Wixams Community Group and a local councillor have raised concerns about plans to build three new warehouses on land which they say had been previously earmarked for new homes.
The planning application, submitted by Gazeley, would see three units built at a total of nearly 50,000m2, over 18m tall and located within 90m of homes. The warehouses on the G-Park site would be in use 24 hours a day.
And despite the site’s proximity to the village, the Community Group says that only a small number of people within Wixams were notified about these plans.
Residents and any interested parties can give their views via the public access portal on the Council website. The deadline to respond is Tuesday 4 February.
“New inhabitants of the Wixams Retirement Village have expressed alarm about the plans,” said Leon Staszak, Chair of the Wixams Community Group.
“The view from their new properties will be significantly impaired by these vast buildings as well as the increased traffic along the main road splitting their community from the rest of Wixams.
“The style of warehouse being proposed is normally found near to motorways and away from homes, not within the boundary of a new community.
“All three units would be used for the storage and distribution of goods, meaning there would be an increase in traffic using The Causeway, the most northernly access point to Wixams from the A6.
“In late 2019, the newly built 91,000 m2 B&M distribution centre opened its doors and, despite not yet running at full capacity, has brought a considerable increase in HGV usage to this road.
“In recent weeks the conditions of the roads leading into Wixams have deteriorated rapidly. With plans to build a 88,000 m2 distribution centre for Aldi, along with other newly built warehouses in the Wilstead Industrial Park, members of the Wixams community are questioning the validity of bringing even more heavy traffic across the same roads.”
The Wixams Community Group held a public meeting on 22 January and invited residents to attend and express their views.
Cllr Graeme Coombes co-led the meeting where he helped to answer questions and listened to the feedback from those in attendance.
He also explained that as part of planning consent for the B&M and Aldi units on land previously allocated for houses, it was agreed that the G-Park site would be used for homes instead.
Cllr Coombes told the Bedford Independent, “I am appalled that the Borough Council has failed to carry through its promise to re-designate land meant for employment use and turn it over to housing instead.
“As a consequence, over 1,000 much needed houses will be lost from Wixams and existing residents will be forced to overlook an eyesore warehouse development.
“The lack of a clear strategy for Wixams is very apparent as the Borough Council appears willing to accept randomly submitted planning applications, with little or no thought for the consequences for Wixams residents.”
A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council said, “This site has been shown as employment land since the inception of the settlement in 1999, with no applications submitted for residential development.
“An outline planning application for employment on the site was agreed by Planning Committee in October 2019.
“The Council is currently considering an application for the full details of the development (reserved matters), and so is not able to comment further.
“Residents and any interested parties can give their views via the public access portal on the Council website. The deadline for such responses is Tuesday 4 February.”
Members of the community who live closest to the development expressed their disappointment that a once peaceful village has now suddenly changed into a major thoroughfare for large, noisy vehicles.
“One attendee spoke of being woken up in the night by squealing brakes from lorries, another told us there’s now a smell of diesel fumes outside of their home on a permanent basis,” said Mr Staszak.
“Residents are understandably frustrated that the north of Wixams is quickly turning into a major logistics park. We’re urging the Planning Committee at Bedford Borough Council to pay attention to public feedback and listen to their concerns.”
Residents of Wixams have the opportunity to respond to the plans with views supporting or opposing the development.
“The Wixams Community Group are encouraging all in the village to take the time to understand what’s being proposed, consider the impacts it would have on the community, especially for those near to the site, and to respond,” said Mr Staszak.
“Details of the plans and how to respond to the planning application are on the group’s website. We would urge all residents to make their views known.”