‘Look for somewhere else to live if you have a car,’ Bedford planner says as council mulls plans for former Rushmoor School site Bedford News

The buildings on the former site of Rushmoor School will become one or two bed apartment blocks – but if you have a car you should look for somewhere else to live.

That was the advice given by Jon Shortland, Bedford Borough Council’s chief executive for planning, infrastructure and economic growth, at the planning committee last night (Monday March 28).

A request for the demolition of the old school hall and shops, and the conversion of buildings into flats on the site in Shakespeare Road, Bedford, has been made to the committee at the request of Harpur Ward Councillor, Colleen Atkins (Labour) – and there were also 20 objectionable neighbors.

Part of the Rushmoor School development site

Janine Laver, development manager for Bedford Borough Council, said: “The proposed development is seeking full planning permission for the demolition of some buildings, conversion and change of use of other buildings to provide 32 apartments at a bed and 23 two-bed apartments, including associated works,” she said.

“Although the on-site parking numbers do not meet the standards, given the highly sustainable location and parking restrictions in controlled parking areas, there is no problem of impact on the highway and highway officials did not object,” she added.

Councilor David Sawyer (LibDems, De Parys Ward) expressed concern about the lack of on-site parking and pointed to a statement in the report.

“While the development will be in parking deficit, given the highly sustainable location, it is unlikely that every resident will need to own a car to access day-to-day services and facilities,” he quoted.

“I would like to know what evidence you have of this statement,” he asked.

Jon Shortland replied: “The main issue in terms of the benefits of this location is that it is very close to the train station.

“It’s very close to the bus station and a short walk to Sainsbury’s and Aldi in terms of groceries.

“So our experience in other places is that those factors mean that not everyone you might expect to normally choose to own a motor vehicle would.

“The Highways Department was happy to relax the standards to allow fewer parking spaces than would normally be the case.

“Also bearing in mind that the site is in a controlled parking zone and that the double yellow lines control on-street parking, there is no possibility given that we will not be issuing permits parking lot to park in the CPZ, for people to occupy the existing road space.

“So if they want to own a car, they’ll have to live somewhere else,” he said.

“So your assumption is that because there’s no space on the street because it’s a CPZ, and because there’s no, in my opinion, on-site parking, people will decide not to own the car. That’s your opinion, isn’t it,” adviser Sawyer asked.

Mr Shortland replied: ‘That is the opinion of the road officers.’

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Councilor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) asked: “What would our [parking] are the standards? What number would be recommended if we were to make them?”

Mr Shortland said: ‘Given the mix of one-bed and two-bed accommodation on the site, we would normally consider 78, so providing 24 is around 30 per cent of the norm.’

Ms Laver said: “I think councilors should bear in mind that we have published a climate change agenda in this authority, and it is a hugely sustainable location.

“So pushing maximum parking standards almost goes against what we should be trying to achieve, which is encouraging people not to own vehicles.

“I think we should encourage the fact that this site doesn’t have a parking space for everyone. Otherwise we would be inundated with people getting into their vehicles.

“So I think this candidacy should be looked at favorably,” she said.

Councilor Sawyer said: “I think it’s the statements about parking in the report. I think it’s based on a very basic error, the assumption that people just use cars to get to the station and go shopping.

“I have to say that’s just not the case.

“Residents tend to have cars for a variety of different needs, not needed to get to the station, to go shopping, to visit family, to do other things that they need to do.

“And the reality of this development will be that at least 30 cars, assuming every dwelling has a car, will end up having to be parked on the street,” he said.

He added that he could not support the request in its current form.

Councilor James Weir (Conservative, rural Kempston Ward) said parking is always an “emotional” topic.

“I can only hope that the sustainable location of the apartments would lead to fewer cars.

“We often ask for more urban residential offers, and I think it gives us that,” he said.

A majority passed the request, subject to the conditions set.

Rushmoor School has merged with St Andrews School and they are to develop a new school, called Bedford Greenacre, in Clapham.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-29 16:41:31

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