Solar go-ahead for Keep

Kempston Barracks.
Kempston Barracks.

Planning permission to install solar panels on a listed building has been granted despite council officers recommendations for refusal.

In an application considered by Bedford Borough Council’s planning committee, a request to install the panels on The Keep, Bedford Road, Kempston, was given the go ahead.

A previous application for panels was refused and the current proposal was taken to committe by Kempston West councillor Will Hunt for consideration as there was a “conflict between the desire for renewable energy and the need to preserve and enhance the character of a listed building”.

The Keep, a former army barracks, is one of only eight surviving Cardwell Keeps, dating from 1876. It was part of reforms to distribute barracks around the country.

Officers had recommended the application was turned down as the installation would require careful removal of existing roof slates and alterations to the historic roof structure.

However, councillors granted planning permission at the meeting on Monday, January 26.

Other examples of Cardwell Keeps can be found in Worcester, Reading, Taunton and Bury St Edmunds.

At the Kempston site, the former parade ground has become the car park, and the land to the rear of the building was developed for housing in the 1980s.

During the planning meeting, the committee also gave approval to plans to develop former public house, The Queens Head in Kempston Road, into six one-bedroom flats and to build two one-bedroom flats behind it.

The application had previously been turned down by the council in March 2014, on grounds it did not provide adequate parking, or garden space.

Councillors were asked to consider an amended application for the development at the planning meeting, and granted approval subject to 12 conditions, which include approving external building materials, parking and cycle spaces, bin storage, landscaping and energy efficiency.

The building’s former use as a public house has been deemed as no longer economically viable and has been vacant for about five years.

Details of planning applications in full can be viewed at Bedford Borough Council’s website at