Road reopening could ease Interchange Retail Park traffic jams

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A bone of contention for many Bedfordians could finally have a solution after planners agreed to new layout proposals at the Interchange Retail Park in Kempston.

When major upgrades to the A421 were made several years ago, the roundabout used by shoppers to access the Interchange Retail Park was removed and the connecting road closed.

However, approval to change the layout of the retail park and use this former connection road to help ease shopper congestion has now been granted.

Currently anyone wanting visiting the retail park at busy times is forced to sit in traffic jams that can reach as far back as Cow Bridge on Ampthill Road.

This disrupts anyone wanting to use the new retail park to the east or carry on along Ampthill Road toward Kempston Hardwick.

The plans agreed at meeting yesterday (8 August) are to partially reopen the road that used to connect Ampthill Road with the A421 and build a new new entrance at the retail park’s south east corner.

Interchange road layout proposals
Image: Google, map data 2019

While shoppers still won’t be able to drive in from the A421 the idea is to split traffic in two and reduce congestion at the large roundabout on Ampthill Road.

The current entrance on Polo Field Way will be reduced to a single lane and will only allow access to shops at the north side of the park, which are mostly large furniture stores.

Shoppers wanting to access the south side will be directed along the refurbished road to a larger entrance, they will still be able to use the current entrance as an exit.

The new entrance will also be used as an exit for shoppers parked closer to that side of the retail park.

The road, just before the retail park entrance, is currently blocked by an earth ‘bung’. Image: Google, Streetview (2019)

The plans, submitted by owners of the retail park, do not reduce the number of parking spaces and do not affect the layout of the retail units.

Further additions, such as an area for turning should motorists head to the wrong entrance and a priority junction so service vehicles don’t add to congestion are also included in the plans.

In their approval of the plans, Bedford Borough Council said: “The development will significantly improve access to the Retail Park and will reduce queuing and congestion that is experienced at peak times.

“This will improve the flow of vehicles into and around the site and improve the safe and convenient use of the wider highway network.

“No adverse impacts have been identified with regard to its visual impact, the impact it will have on ecology, trees or drainage. There is no impact on any residential properties.”