Socially distanced visit arranged to view a Kempston street’s parking woes

King Street, Kempston
King Street, Kempston

A socially distanced visit will be arranged so councillors can see a Kempston street’s parking problems.

Councillors heard there is opposition from residents in King Street to Aldo Saralli’s plan to extend the chalet bungalow near the junction with Bedford Road to form three homes.

Bedford Borough Council’s highways experts told a meeting that plans to create eight parking spaces on the site, with enough room to turn cars around, meant the plan is satisfactory.

Resident Betty Donovan disagreed. She told Monday’s meeting of the planning committee that it would be an “accident waiting to happen.”

Parking problems in the dead-end street are so severe with the GP surgery, a garage, school, and other businesses in Bedford Road, that parking is “beyond capacity”.

She added, “Sometimes I can’t get in and out of my driveway, they will have problems getting in and out.”

Kempston north ward councillor and Labour group leader, Sue Oliver, used to live in King Street she and said council officers had “understated demand for parking spaces”.

“There are frequent blockages and tailbacks.”

Council highways experts told the committee that deliveries, drop off and pick up for the surgery “appears to ignore the parking restrictions and this can and does create conflict and a degree of congestion.

“This occurrence is regular but does have potential to create some road safety and practical issues for local residents and through traffic entering or exiting King Street.

“Demand for on-street car parking in the area would be described as being high.”

However, they added that the site itself would “provide sufficient off-street parking to meet demand” and would therefore “not harm highway or pedestrian safety.”

Applicant’s agent Aleks Simic, of Simic Associates, said the application had been carefully put together after taking professional advice into account.

“It would be the safest access in King Street with all the parking fully contained on the site,” he said.

“It’s a very comfortable area for cars to manoeuvre so that they are always able to leave in a forward gear.”

This, he said was an improvement on the current situation where there are three spaces on-site for a four-bed house, and all have to reverse on to the road.

Janine Laver, the council’s development management chief said the council had to listen to its professional advice.

“Highways haven’t objected, we couldn’t go against that professional advice,” she said.

Councillors moved quickly to go for a visit to the site, with Cllr Martin Towler (Riseley ward) agreeing.

“We might as well,” he said.

To that Ms Laver said they could not organise an accompanied “group site visit” because of the coronavirus rule of six.

“Councillors will have to attend in their own time,” she added.

But Cllr Wendy Rider (Lib Dem, Brickhill ward) pointed out, “We are never, ever six people at a site visit.”

The committee did not discuss where anyone driving there will park.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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