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Biddenham Society opposes Church End application

Application 16/03531/FUL seeks approval for a radical re-shaping of the 1930’s detached house at 33 Church End to include one and two storey front, side and rear extensions.

The Biddenham Society has lodged an objection to this proposal on the following grounds:

  1. the volume, massing and detail of the proposed alterations have little regard for the special character and visual qualities of the Conservation Area;
  2. the relationship of the proposed alterations to adjacent buildings is not contextually appropriate, virtually infilling the site with the loss of through views and open space and resulting in considerable impact on the Conservation Area;
  3. the exclusively traditional subservient roof forms which characterise Church End have been ignored;
  4. the 3D image presented showing the crown roof loses the massing of the roof in the low perspective view point, which would not be the case at eye level travelling along Church End in either direction;
  5. the positive contribution made by the original building to the Conservation Area has been subsumed and cannot be identified; and
  6. no reference is made to the boundary treatment in the plans as an element which has been identified as contributing to the Conservation Area.

A decision on the application is awaited.

To access plans and comments on applications

  1. Go to http://www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans
  2. Click on the link ‘To view and comment on Planning Applications’
  3. Type in the application reference number.
  4. Click Search
                 Documents
                 View associated documents
Update – 29th June 2017
The application was subsequently refused by the planning authority.

Kings Field: land north of Bromham Road

The name Kings Field for the development on the land  north of Bromham Road commemorates the review there by King George V in October 1914 of the Scottish troops then stationed in Bedford.

That recognition is being extended further with the naming of the roads in the development at the east (Bedford) end of the site – so far signs are up for King George Avenue, Argyll Heath (after the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, just one of the regiments in the Highland Division in the town), and Caber Walk (after one of the events in the Highland Games held for the troops on Easter Monday in April 1915).

At the west (Biddenham) end of the site house building is now well underway, and over the bypass from there the roof on the changing rooms for the playing fields is nearly completed.

 

 

Kings Field – land north of Bromham Road

As work continues on the housing development at the west, Biddenham, end of the land north of Bromham Road, the access road into the development from the roundabout on the bypass is now being opened up.

Meanwhile to the west of that development, on the other, Bromham, side of the bypass work is going apace on developing the playing fields and the changing facilities are also underway.

And through it all the Canada geese amuse themselves by the large pond between the bypass and the river.

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Kings Field – land north of Bromham Road

The roads are now being constructed within the development site for housing at the western – Biddenham – end of Kings Field:

Work is also underway creating the playing fields on the other side – Bromham side – of the bypass, but we didn’t manage to get across the road to take any photos of that as the rain started to come down.

However, later, my colleague also passed that way and did manage, amongst others, a photo looking into the area being developed for playing fields:

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Land north of Bromham Road

You may have noticed on the developers’ sign boards erected on Bromham Road, and more recently on the new section of bypass, that the development has an overall name of Kings Field.

This has been chosen to remember an event that took place on Thursday, 22 October 1914 when King George V came to review the Highland Troops then stationed in Bedford and around, including Biddenham.

The review took place in Bromham Road, the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 23 October reported ‘in the  large field beyond the Midland Railway, and lying between the Golf Course and the Bromham-road, opposite the first Biddenham turn’, that is, where houses are currently being constructed as the new development takes shape.

‘As a matter of fact’ the report continued, ‘the troops occupied both this field and the Golf Course beyond, but the march past took place in the first field’. ‘The Gordon Brigade, probably owing to the proximity of their billets to the review ground, were the first on the scene. They marched up in the neighbourhood by 9 o’clock, and took up their positions on the Golf Links. The Scottish Horse, from the country, were also fairly early arrivals. The Seaforth and Cameron Brigades started to arrive about 10 a.m., and also went to the Golf Links, and the following troops arrived in the following order:- R.G.A., R.F.A. (Golf Links), Argyll Brigade, A.S.C., R.E., and R.A.M.C. Some of the units arrived with bands playing, and in some the men were singing and whistling, but generally speaking there was an air of seriousness’.

‘During the arrival of the troops the reserve regiment of the Beds. Yeomanry marched up to their training ground – a field off the Biddenham-road, and their smart appearance, despite the absence of uniform in many cases, was favourably commented upon. When the King left they were formed up down the Biddenham-road, but owing to the crowd they had no opportunity of seeing His Majesty’.

On arrival after 11.30 am ‘the royal car passed straight up the road to the second field where His Majesty was received by the general officers, and forthwith he inspected the Scottish Horse, the Artillery Regiments, the Gordons, the Camerons, the Seaforths, and other troops parading in that part of the ground’.

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‘At 11.50 a.m. His Majesty and his retinue entered the first large field at the corner diagonally remote from the gate opposite the Biddenham-lane and began his inspection of the troops on that side, walking along the front ranks from west to east’. The King then moved across the field towards the gate and the march past began, each section headed by a band of pipers. Rain began to fall and fell more heavily as the King eventually left to reach the railway station by 1.30 pm.

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There is much more in the newspaper report of the event which is now marked by the name given to the development taking place almost 102 years later.

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Restoration … or is it?

Biddenhamites jealously guard their heritage. So we were very excited when we heard, within hours of posting ‘Destruction and desecration’, that work had already been undertaken to restore the Coffin Path.

We rushed down to see. Hmmm. We couldn’t really spot the difference.

We do hope that there is more to be done yet to restore the paths, because can what has been done so far conceivably be acceptable as complying with the obligations of the Rights of Way Act 1990?

You may spot a hazy, vague impression of the paths in some distance shots but as you progress through the field, still trying to avoid spraining an ankle or two, of paths there appears to be nothing.

Apparently, barley has been sown in the field, and the good news is if the barley grows over where the paths should be we are entitled to cut it back. We’d better warn the DIY stores there could be a run on scythes later in the year?

Let’s hope the Borough Council will tell us there is still more restoration work to be done to bring the Coffin Path and footpath 10 back into obvious being and at appropriate widths. We don’t want another ‘dovecote moment’.

This whole saga does bring out the importance of communication. Had villagers known in advance that work was due to be done affecting a right of way, particularly in such a sensitive area and on a path so significant to the village’s heritage, there could perhaps have been proper discussion and agreed action before the event. We have heard there was some discussion between the Borough Council and the Estate last December. If that is the case was any effort made to communicate with Biddenham?

So in the meantime keep on trampling and look out those recipes that make good use of barley.

Destruction and desecration

Villagers were up in arms this week about the landowner’s “scorched earth” attack on the field to the west of the village pond which wiped out a substantial stretch of the ancient Coffin Path.

Parish and local councillors were inundated with calls for action from concerned villagers outraged at the destruction and desecration of the village’s heritage. In the meantime, at the risk of sprained ankles, villagers continued to walk the line the path had for centuries followed.

Whilst there is a statutory right for the occupier of land to plough or otherwise disturb a right of way under the Rights of Way Act 1990, the occupier must thereafter make good the surface to not less than its minimum width and indicate the line of the path.

Villagers were heartened to hear on Friday that following representations to the Borough Council the landowner had been instructed to fulfil those obligations for the Coffin Path (footpath 13). Similar action needs also to be taken to restore the section of footpath 10 which has been destroyed.

And, of course, villagers must remain vigilant in the event the  landowner may prevaricate or may mount another attack on these paths or other paths in the future. The landowner has been asked to contact the Borough Council if they intended to cultivate any more Public Rights of Way in the area in order that they can be advised of locations and widths. 

Watch out too for the Conservation Area report due to be issued for consultation  sometime this year, which will be an opportunity once more to stress the importance of the preservation of the Coffin Path as part of the village’s heritage, and hopefully that can then be enshrined in conservation requirements to be observed in the future.

Easter Monday on the bypass with ‘Katie’

Walking the new western bypass from Biddenham to Bedford on a sunny Easter Monday afternoon with Storm Katie’s tailwinds behind us was a pleasure.

It was a bit tougher on the return journey with Katie’s winds trying to hold us back. And the errant BBQ wasn’t fired up so no chance of refreshments to help us on our way.

But not long now till a peaceful walk along that route will be disturbed by the traffic for which the bypass was designed.