Church behind hybrid plans for Kempston hub and homes insists proposals are at "low risk of flooding"

It also maintains it provides help to anyone irrespective of race, sexual orientation or gender
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The church behind controversial hybrid plans for 79 homes and a community hub in Kempston has responded to residents’ fears, insisting the proposals aren’t "in the floodplain”.

Following our story two weeks ago, when we revealed Grace Community Church (GCC) had submitted a planning application to Bedford Borough Council, Bedford Today has been inundated with responses from angry residents, Kempston West Labour councillor James Valentine’s and Bedford MP Mohammad Yasin.

All were overwhelmingly hostile to it, with people concerned about: the need for a hub; the likely traffic congestion in Cemetery Road, Kempston; whether the hub would be 100% inclusive to people regardless of their beliefs or sexuial orientation – and; most significantly, whether it would exacerbate flooding in the area.

An artist's impression of the community hubAn artist's impression of the community hub
An artist's impression of the community hub

But in a response from the church itself, it claims that’s not the case and it says people in the main back the plans.

The statement from GCG said: “The original public consultations in 2021 and subsequent feedback showed that there was more support than objections to the plan. This support, from the numerous people GCC helps on a regular basis, continues to grow and illustrates that this project is considered an exciting opportunity for many Kempston residents.”

When Bedford Today put residents’ flooding fears to the church, it said: “As the proposed site of our community hub, it is also critical to Grace the risk of flooding is adequately assessed.

“Our extensive dialogue with the Environment Agency (EA) has established our proposed development is not in the floodplain. The EA’s flood maps are indicative rather than specific and we have worked closely with them to review the existing model of the River Great Ouse to make sure it is fit for purpose. This work has confirmed that the development is at low risk of flooding and will not increase flood risk downstream of the site. In the recent January 2024 floods, and in other recent severe events, the development site did not flood.”

The church also rejected concerns about traffic congestion and parking. It said: “Assessments have been made to ensure car parking provision on the site is sufficient, even when the site is at its busiest. Our transport assessment has examined the existing local highway situation and traffic data, evaluated the expected travel demand from the development, and concluded that the development won’t have a severe impact. The community hub activities will largely take place during off peak times.”

And when one resident questioned whether the hub 100% inclusive despite people’s race, sexual orientation or gender, the church added: “Grace is delighted to welcome anyone and everyone – with or without faith – to its services and activities. The church is incredibly diverse, more than 30 nationalities are represented and ages ranges from two weeks old to their late 90s.

“The 135 volunteers who serve in the community each week, provide help to anyone irrespective of any defining characteristic of race, sexual orientation, gender or need. Anyone who has accessed the longstanding services, such as its nationally-recognised free debt support service, or the thousands of families and children supported by Grace’s community outreach work, will testify to this.”