Riverside scheme to receive scrutiny

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A scrutiny committee will look more closely into plans for the Riverside North development tonight.

Bedford Borough Council’s corporate services overview and scrutiny committee will consider the use of the land for the project, on the request of Conservative group leader at the council, and committee chair Carole Ellis.

In a letter to the committee Mrs Ellis said: “Recent press coverage suggests that many residents have reservations about the development, and concerns have also been expressed by constituents to members from all parties. Therefore, we feel there should be an outlet for debate in relation to this matter and that the committee is best placed to provide this.”

She added: “The concerns expressed include the design of the development, in that it would not be in keeping with other buildings in the surrounding area.

“Several of the historic buildings on the river front are made up of red brick and are in stark contrast with the modern design which has been put forward by the developer, Coplan Estates.”

The committee will also discuss the decision to demolish the town hall building as part of the scheme, which was set to be approved by the council’s executive last night.

Mrs Ellis also expressed concerns over the plans so far for the cinema, hotel and leisure complex.

She added: “We are concerned that the river will not be opened up, despite the demolition of the town hall building and representations stating that this would be one of the key aspects of the development.

“The river is the jewel in Bedford’s crown and this is an opportunity for it to be utilised in what should be an exciting development for the borough. Instead, the proposals show that the river will be obscured from view by the new buildings.”

The Riverside North Development will feature a multi-screen cinema, restaurants, a hotel and retail units.

Responses to a September 2012 public exhibition showed that 51 per cent of people asked claimed that the proposals do not provide a decent range of activities and connect the retail areas with the River Great Ouse.