Bedford Borough Council (BBC) planning committee have received an application for the building of 3 large warehouses on the land north of Watson Road, the road which currently serves Wilstead Industrial Park. As with all planning applications, the public has the right to voice their support or opposition to the proposals. We have created this information page so you can:
- Understand what is being proposed.
- Learn how you can take action if you wish to.
Planning Committees are legally obliged to consider views from the public in their decision making so we encourage residents to take the time to leave comments.
The deadline for responding to this application is Tuesday 28th January
What is Being Built?
Planning application 19/02724/MAR is for:
‘Approval of all reserved matters (appearance, landscaping, layout, scale and access) for three employment units (Use Class B8 with ancillary office floorspace) pursuant to Outline permission 19/01137/MAO. | Land North Of Watson Road Wilstead Bedfordshire’.
Details of the units to be built (source: Design & Access Statement – 19 02724 MAR V60.pdf):
- Mostly warehouse space with attached offices
- A total of 49,803 m2 (536,079 ft2) building space
- 10.62 hectares (26.23 acres) total site area
- Each building is 18.15 metres tall
- Within 90 metres of the nearest home
- Parking for 318 cars
- Parking for 115 HGVs
- 24/7 operating hours
- Access provided from the A6 via The Causeway
Other Warehouses in Wixams
There are already a number of warehouses either built, being built or planned for Wixams:
- Wilstead Industrial Park contains over a dozen warehouses/units.
- Three new 24/7 units are currently being completed in Wilstead Ind. Park totalling 15,739 m2 (169,400 ft2) with parking for 161 cars and 113 HGVs (source: Wilstead Industrical Park Brochure). These units have no currently planned occupiers. RED
- The B&M warehouse is now operational, it totals 91,000 m2 (979,515 ft2) (source: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-43825804). PURPLE
- A new Aldi distribution centre is to be built close to the B&M warehouse, its buildings will total 78,857 m2 (848,809 ft2) and it will have parking for 611 cars and 229 HGV loading docks (source: Planning Application 17 02657 MAR). YELLOW
- 5 new units are to be built north of Fisherwood Road totalling 7,358 m2 (79,203 ft2) and will have parking for 109 vehicles (source: Planning Application 19 02398 MAF) ORANGE
This gives a total of around 250,000 m2 (2.7M ft2) of warehouse/unit space.
Whilst job opportunities for residents should always be welcomed, there are some potential concerns which could be raised regarding the building of these units. We have outlined a few issues below which the public might want to consider.
The three units are planned to be built on land which is currently open space and offers views across the Marston Vale. If built, these warehouses will be highly visible when entering Wixams via The Causeway, to residents as they move within the village along Brooklands Avenue and Bedford Road, and the biggest impact would be to those whose homes look directly onto the site. The closest unit will be within 90 metres of the closest home and will be over 18 metres tall.
- BBC News – Milton Keynes: 18m-high warehouse is a ‘disaster’
- BBC News – Milton Keynes Council takes steps over ‘huge’ warehouse
The style of the proposed warehouses matches many huge warehouses around the country such as near Junction 13 of the M1 and is designed to reduce its impact from a distance. When compared to the brand new houses, the greenery on Bedford Road and the nearby lake, this type of building will dominate the landscape and significantly impact the visual appeal of this part of Wixams.
The offices of Unit 3 are alongside Bedford Road, this means any home visible from the building will be overlooked by workers in those offices.
Traffic and Road Usage
All the units and warehouses listed above are accessed from the A6 via The Causeway. In the last few weeks there has been a significant amount of damage to this road and the main roundabout to Bedford Road possibly due to the increased HGV use since the opening of the B&M warehouse. There have also been comments made by the public regarding the noise made by HGVs accessing the industrial area at night. As more units are planned and built these issues are going to get worse.
The areas around Brooklands Avenue, Fisherwood Road and Bedford Road towards Elstow are often busy with pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers. The more vehicles using these roads the less safe these areas become.
Noise and Light Pollution
With the existing and planned warehouses in Wixams being mainly for distribution it’s likely that we will see a huge number of HGVs travelling around the north of Wixams spewing a lot of pollution. The proximity of this site to residential areas including the Wixams Retirement Village means that pollution levels in that area will certainly be made worse, causing damage to the environment and posing a health risk to wildlife and residents.
With 24/7 operating hours there will also be an increase in the light projected externally from the warehouses toward neighbouring homes.
The Causeway is one of the main access points into Wixams and will be the route taken by many when visiting Wixams to view properties. Along with the existing warehouses such as B&M and in Wilstead Industrial Park, these three units might change the initial impressions of potential house buyers and may dissuade them from buying, negatively impacting property prices.
It’s unknown at this stage whether there are already businesses lined up to fill these three new units. However, the three units currently being completed adjacent to Seasons were built without planned tenants. There are other warehouses in the Borough which are built and remain empty, such as next to the A421 towards Junction 13 and the A428 near Kempston.
By planning in this manner the decision as to what types of businesses might invest in Wixams is being made by the landowners not by businesses themselves. There are already concerns that the Borough is being covered in warehouses as well as the areas close to Junction 13.
The typical jobs made available in warehouses are picking and packing along with administrative and other associated roles. Picking and packing jobs are normally low paid with current market rates at around £17,000 per year for full time employment. With the average house prices in Wixams being over £300,000 (source: www.zoopla.co.uk/house-prices/wixams/) it’s less likely that many of these jobs will be filled by residents. This would mean that employees will need to travel into Wixams from elsewhere and Wixams’ residents will be forced to seek employment outside, causing more congestion, noise, damage and pollution.
Business Incubator Units
It was originally planned that Wixams would be built with a set of 16 Business Incubator Units which are designed to help startup companies. These units typically offer a set of facilities including office space, a phone line and broadband internet connection, meeting rooms and also experts to support new business owners. These facilities are often offered for free for a period but are typical cheap to rent after the free period finishes. The units planned for Wixams were to range in size from 25-100 m2.
To help with the meeting of a schools funding gap, the requirement to build the incubator units was removed, meaning startup businesses in Wixams are not able to take advantage of these facilities (source: Planning Application 15 03039 S106). There are no plans to offer a replacement for the incubator units which would help local businesses to get started and to help them build successful enterprises.
How to Take Action
If you would like to leave comments supporting or opposing the building of these new units you are encouraged to do so using the official channels provided by Bedford Borough Council. Please ensure you include the Planning Application Reference 19/02724/MAR.
Please read the Council’s guidance on planning application comments: www.bedford.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-applications/comment-on-planning-applications/
We also recommend reading the following blog to help you if you’d like to object to this proposal: Martin Goodall’s Planning Law Blog
Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit the planning applications search page: www.bedford.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-applications/search-plans-page/
- Click the button View and comment on planning applications
- Enter the Application Reference: 19/02724/MAR and click the Search button
- You can review the associated documents under the Documents tab if required (19 02724 MAR V60.pdf is recommended)
- Follow the instructions under the Comments tab to create an account and leave your comment
- To oppose this application select Object as both the Stance and the Reason for comment.
Write to:Planning Services, Bedford Borough Council,
4th Floor, Borough Hall,
The deadline for responding to this application is Tuesday 28th January
We will be hosting a meeting to discuss this planning application and give extra guidance on how to respond to it on Wednesday 22nd January at 8pm, all are welcome to attend.
The meeting event has useful buttons to add this to your own calendar: www.wixams.org/event/g-park-community-meeting
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We have taken great care to ensure the contents of this page are accurate, if you find a mistake please contact us so we can rectify it.