Packed parish council meeting hears residents’ concerns over Bromham Mill regeneration plans

Bromham Mill Entrance in 2021 Screenshot Google Streetview (C)2024 Google Image Capture October 2021. Image: LDRS
Bromham Mill Entrance in 2021. Image: screenshot Google Streetview (C)2024 Google Image Capture October 2021 via LDRS

Around 80 concerned residents packed a council meeting as plans to regenerate Bromham Mill were discussed.

But in a move to reassure members of the Bromham Residents’ Group, a councillor said the parish council “isn’t as stupid” as some residents think.

Parish councillor Trevor Roff, the chair of the Bromham Mill Board made his claim during last night’s (Tuesday, 2 April) parish council meeting.

Earlier in the meeting the room had been full of residents concerned over plans for the Mill. So many people turned up that parish council members were surrounded by residents during the questions from the public agenda item.

“To be fair to the group, through their various guises, they made some very valid points,” parish councillor Roff said.

“I think there is a misunderstanding, there is some onus on the parish council to put the record straight as it were, on the outline of the development and the intentions of that development.

“I can assure you from a parish council perspective, the intention is to be very sympathetic to that site.

“And I think there is a misunderstanding between the parties about what the intentions are and perhaps the scale of it,” he said.

Discuss concerns

Parish councillor Roff then suggested that representatives from the parish council should informally meet the residents’ group to discuss its concerns.

“To see if we can overcome their concerns or at least, give them the reassurance that the development’s master plan has to be constructed in a sympathetic, caring and understanding way,” he said.

“The development of that master plan was very much evidenced by the overwhelming support we had for the Neighbourhood Plan.

“There was quite an extensive consultation undertaken as part of the development proposals and during the planning process we attended Bromham Mill for a whole week.

“And there was overwhelming support at that time for the emerging proposals.

“You can be rest assured that the parish council is not as stupid as some of you think, we will not take construction decisions that would not be right for that site.

“We would not spend your money unwisely,” he said.

The meeting heard that the mill was taken on by the parish council after negotiation with Bedford Borough Council to preserve it for current and future generations.

Development worries

“I’m alarmed and almost now regret the four years of negotiation,” parish councillor Roff said.

“And I think the parish council seriously does need to consider, as it’s entitled to within the lease of gifting it back to the borough council.

“There are serious risks, I have to say, in giving it back to the borough council as to what it could become. The guarantee you’ve got with the parish council is for up to 100 years it will be retained in a very sympathetic way.

“It won’t be developed into Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Metro, or Costa Coffee. The parish council needs to put something out there to at least give more information about what the scheme is.

“And I do think representatives of both sides should come together in a civilised way to see if you have a sensible conversation. and to determine hopefully a way forward that meets the aspirations of the whole community,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting to the Bedford Independent, a spokesperson for the Bromham Residents’ Group, said: “Overall, we got the impression that we were just an irritation and [the mill developers] had no intention of changing their plans whatsoever.

“They restricted the time for questions at the beginning to 15 minutes and when questioned if this could be extended, Sian [Woodfine] said it couldn’t be done constitutionally.

“Nor did they add any time on at the end of the meeting which finished at 8:10pm and quite a few of us were still there.”

The parish council agreed to deliver a document outlining the regeneration plans for Bromham Mill to all the village’s households once costs have been agreed.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

with additional reporting by Erica Roffe

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire