Developer’s hopes for a new home in Biddenham, near Bedford go down the pan

A plan to knock down what’s left of an old sewage pumping station and build a five bedroom house in its place has been dismissed by a government inspector.

The inspector concluded that a new home would not constitute an improvement over the derelict building at the site, which sits off Bromham Road, in Biddenham, close to the historic bridge.

Developer Tony Lettman, of Luton, appealed to Government inspectors after Bedford Council rejected his proposal for the derelict site, on 2019.

“Taking account of the observed vehicle speeds,” said Government Inspector Tim Wood. “I consider that the inability to provide sufficient visibility for emerging vehicles, is a matter which would compromise highway safety.”

The former sewage pumping station is well hidden

He added that the fact that some people park there and may carry out unsafe driving, was no reason to allow a permanent home with an “unsafe access point”.

Mr Wood rejected a suggestion that highway land could be used to avoid problems. “As this is not in his ownership, I give this prospect little weight.”

The site lies close to Bromham bridge and the inspector noted that Mr Lettman’s own heritage expert had accepted that the proposal would have a slight negative effect on the rural setting.

This hurdle of “less than substantial harm” proved to outweigh, in the inspector’s opinion, any public benefits of the development.

“I have considered the appellant’s case in this respect but I find nothing of sufficient weight to do so,” he wrote in his decision, made on April 6.

Mr Wood visited the site on March 16 and added that he found that the former pumping station was outside the settlement boundary for Bromham and Biddenham, and in the countryside.

Mr Wood concluded that a new building would not be an improvement on the current derelict building.

He said the remnants of the existing building have a small negative effect on the rural surroundings.

But the proposed house would result in a more formal appearance, with a larger, two-storey building and domestic character.

“In my judgement, this would have a negative effect on the character of the area, notwithstanding the presence of houses on the opposite side of the road,” he said.

The site is also in a flood zone, and the inspector concluded that “inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk.”