Big Concerns Over Parking On Ashton School Development Site




There was a strong turnout from the public at this evening's Plans sub-committee of Dunstable Town Council. 27 members of the public and 9 town councillors attended.

Speaker after speaker complained about what they saw as woefully inadequate parking for the proposed number of homes on the former Ashton School Site, with grade 2 listed buildings.

Weston Homes plc plan to build a mix of homes of various sizes on the site, as well as converting the main school buildings, that are to be retained, into apartments.

Although the Town Council only comments on applications in its area, it is Central Bedfordshire Council that will decide the final outcome. Normal procedure of allowing members of the public to speak if they gave 3 days clear notice, was cast aside by the chair of the meeting, Cllr Liz Jones. Instead she proposed that members of the public could speak for a brief period; six people were permitted to speak.

Public speaker one complained of the problem of parking already affecting Printers Way and Ashton Road, particularly at weekends and evenings, and did not want those living on the new development to be affected with the same problems.

Public speaker two reiterated the problems mentioned by speaker one and drew attention to her driveway being blocked and the difficulty caused to emergency vehicles, as well as abuse received by drivers who had inconvenienced her. There was already too many people parking in the street, she said.

Speaker three was concerned about a promise given that a Heritage Centre would be provided and wanted to know how plaques and the roof of the hall would be preserved.

Speaker four was most concerned about the proposed access from Ashton Road into the new site, to serve 10 parking spaces, and proposed there should be no access point there. The speaker drew attention to the 175 parking spaces proposed for the site, and pointed out that new criteria for Central Bedfordshire planning policies demanded that 223 spaces should be provided for this size of development.

Speaker five suggested that parking in nearby George Street was already at a dangerous volume for access by emergency vehicles and for parking. If there were less dwellings on the new site, there would be less traffic, and the newcomers would not be encroaching on parking spaces of established  homes.

Speaker six spoke of noise, and traffic pollution concerns that might affect nearby Printers Way. In his view the development was too cramped; the plan for development should consider the needs of all the roads around, and not just the Ashton School site in isolation.

Councillors then got their turn to speak about their own concerns for the development site.

Councillor Gloria Martin opened by stating strong opposition to the proposed number of parking spaces. She said the developers had underestimated the number of parking spaces required for a development of the size in front of them. In her view there should be 223 spaces including 25% for visitors. Three gates for traffic to enter would make it too easy for new residents to encroach on the local roads. She was supportive of concerns for  emergency vehicle access in existing roads. Double yellow lines could assist emergency vehicle access, but these were not enforced. Parking permits could be issued, but that generated cost for residents. In all, the development would bring "unmitigated chaos with three proposed gates" she concluded.

Cllr Pat Staples encouraged the public to turn-out at Central Bedfordshire Council to address the Development Control committee, when it comes before them.

Cllr John Kane thought it was a good development, but also thought the amount of green space could be reduced to make more spaces for parking. He supported the notion of residents only parking.

Cllr Claire Meakins-Jell agreed that parking was an issue, and said she thought the plan was an over development.

The Town Council's official comment remarks were still to be put into words at the time of writing this report, but they would be commenting along the lines of supporting the principle of development, whilst expressing concern at access from Ashton Road, and on the low number of proposed parking spaces to go with the development.



The application borders Ashton Road, High Street North, and Dog Kennel Walk.

The application number is CB/16/03188/FULL and details can be seen at http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/searchresult.asp?appnumber=CB/16/03188

and here

http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/searchresult.asp?appnumber=CB/16/03189

Comments on the applications can be sent to planning@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

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