Tim Hill

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Elstow, Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick. Learn more

Devastating news for Elstow High Street

by timhill on 9 December, 2012

Dear Resident
I received some devastating news on Thursday evening. I am very disappointed to report that the Planning Department is recommending approval of the application for development of The Swan Car Park. This application is on the Agenda of the Planning Committee of Monday 17th December 2012. Please see the attached drawings for the application.

Following further discussions with the developers, a very minor amendment has been made that means a small “shaving off” of the corner at the Church End access. However, the application still means:

a) A two story property fronting the site and 3 properties in total on the site.

b) A destroying of the views across the conservation area.

c) A very dangerous blind spot at the Church End junction.

I am disgusted that the planners have chosen to ignore the objections of a near-record number of local residents, and those of myself and the Parish Council.

However, the final decision is made by the Councillors on the Planning Committee. So that we have the best possible chance of getting this application refused by the Councillors, please see below a list of the Planning Committee members and their contact details in the hope that you might contact them to ask them to support its refusal?

Please also see further below a record of my objection if you wish to use it when you contact them.

If you wish to attend the Planning Committee meeting or speak on this application at the meeting, please contact the Committee Clerk Margaret Clarke on (01234) 228799 or email her on margaret.clarke@bedford.gov.uk before 4.45pm on Friday 14th December.

Let us hope through our combined efforts, we can get this application refused by the Planning Committee.

If there are any other matters that are a cause of concern for you which you would like to bring to my attention, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Tim Hill

Liberal Democrat FOCUS Team Councillor for Elstow, Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick

The contact details of the Planning Committee Councillors

Chair – Councillor Anita Gerard:

26 Whitbread Avenue, Bedford MK42 9DY Phone: (01234) 364810 email: anitagerard.kb@gmail.com

Vice Chair – Councillor Mark Smith:

15 The Pyghtle, Turvey, Beds MK43 8ED Mobile: 07711 149174 email: mark.smith792@googlemail.com

Councillor Caroline Fensome:

1b Rothsay Place, Bedford MK40 3QD Phone: 07711 097045 email: caroline.fensome@bedford.gov.uk

Councillor Alison Foster:

The Old Rectory 70 The Avenue, Bletsoe, Beds MK44 1QD Mobile: 07773 371190 email: afield_foster@btinternet.com

Councillor Caroline Fensome:

1b Rothsay Place, Bedford MK40 3QD Phone: 07711 097045 email: caroline.fensome@bedford.gov.uk

Councillor Shan Hunt:

5 Vyne Close, Kempston, Beds MK42 8RH Phone: (01234) 852072 email: shanhunt@ntlworld.com

Councillor Will Hunt:

5 Vyne Close, Kempston, Beds MK42 8RH Phone: (01234) 852072 email: willhunt@ntlworld.com

Councillor Mohammed Masud:

46 Henderson Way, Kempston, Beds MK42 8NP email: cllrmasud@bedford.gov.uk

Councillor Philip Merryman:

5 High View, Goldington, Bedford MK41 8ER Phone: (01234) 270319 email: philip.merryman@bedford.gov.uk

Councillor Wendy Rider

23 Orwell Close, Brickhill, Bedford MK41 7BQ email: wendyrider41@gmail.com

My formal objection

I wish to object to Application 12/01049/FUL and pass observations on 12/01050/LBC

Change of use of The Swan. This aspect of the proposal, I have no substantive objection to. This is a good idea and the proposed changes appear to be sympathetic to the building and the area.

Swan Car Park – development on it. A small scale, sympathetic development of this site would be an improvement. A tarmac car park does nothing to improve the area as an important conservation area. However, this proposed in-fill development is an appalling idea. Also, it is not appropriate for this location. It will cause highway safety problems. The objections to this are as follows;

Destruction of important visual aspects within the conservation area.

Any house, whether one or two storey, built in the northern half of the Swan car park site would obstruct several existing important, historical and beautiful views and completely block others;

There are full views of Moot Hall and good views of Elstow Abbey clearly visible from the High Street. These views would be completely blocked by the proposed development.

There are very good views from Elstow Green and Church End of the High Street’s historic buildings including Bunyan’s Mead and The Swan. These views would be substantially diminished by the proposed development.

If the proposed development without any changes were permitted, all these views would be lost or greatly diminished, with only narrow views of part of numbers 8 and 9 Bunyan’s Mead remaining. The Swan would not be visible at all from viewpoints in Church End and Elstow Green.

All of these views were in existence when Elstow Conservation Area was first established around 50 years ago. These views are an important part of the Conservation Area. There can be no justification for allowing the destruction of so many views of heritage buildings within this important Conservation Area.

Highway access into Church End.

The junction with High Street is narrow, with the views into and out of Church End being somewhat restricted with The Green Corner being at the northern edge of the access road. There have been occasions when vehicles attempting this manoeuvre have hit and damaged The Green Corner.

If the proposed two-storey house was built right on the corner as proposed, replacing this low wall with the gable end wall of a house right up to the southern corner of Church Lane, it will be almost impossible for large vehicles e.g. coaches, to negotiate this junction. Damage to either house will result in the Borough Council being sued for allowing this inappropriate development.

Pedestrian Safety.

Elstow Green is very well used for all sorts of recreational purposes e.g. adults walking dogs. Many users come on foot and their main access point to the Green is via the Church End/High Street junction.

Before the developers hoardings were erected without prior notification, walkers leaving the green, exiting via Church End were able to look right over The Swan’s low wall to see if any vehicle was about to turn in to Church End. Also, the drivers of these vehicles could look over the wall and see any pedestrians.

Sometimes drivers, turning into Church End, cut this corner, turning before they have had time to look into Church End, to check for oncoming vehicles or pedestrians. If a house were to be built on the southern corner of the Swan car park, this would greatly restrict pedestrians and drivers views of approaching traffic. This visual restriction is likely to alter pedestrian behaviour because the only way a pedestrian could get view of traffic about to turn into Church End would be to walk in the middle of the road.

High Street parking

As soon as the car park was boarded up, cars started parking on the High Street immediately outside its old access and right next to the Church End access road. If this development as currently proposed is permitted, it is inevitable that visitors to the new residents will park on the High Street. This will only add to the problems outlined in Objection b).

My suggestions:

1. That the change of use of the Swan, Elstow, to residential use is permitted.

2. That the proposed development on the Swan car Park is refused because of its inappropriate scale and substantial detrimental effects to the Conservation Area.

3. That Council planners are asked to discuss with the developer:

a) A small scale development of this site, provided that any future proposals include that corner of the current cark park adjacent to Church Lane and the High Street, be not formed of a two-storey building.

b) The widening of the mouth of Church End.

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