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Kempston West residents oppose building on the floodplain

Cllr James Valentine at the proposed site

Kempston has suffered from three separate flood events since Christmas. This has involved some evacuations and considerable inconvenience to residents unable to get to work or go about their usual business.

People still remember the trauma of Christmas 2020 when the police called to hundreds of homes with evacuation notices.

For this reason alone, Kempston West residents are up in arms about a proposal to build a church and seventy-nine houses on the river Great Ouse floodplain.

Cllr James Valentine (Labour), Borough Councillor for Kempston West, and Mohammad Yasin MP spoke to a packed public meeting at Kempston Hammers back in 2021 and made clear their opposition to the Church’s plans.

Cllr Valentine said “I have appealed to Grace time and again not to proceed with this application, which I knew would divide the community. But they’ve gone ahead regardless, and people are very angry.”

He added, “We don’t need their charity. Kempston West is a middle-income area with low levels of deprivation. In Kempston generally we are served with a plethora of local charities offering food banks and help for the disadvantaged. The Council is already expanding its support via an upgraded Family Hub and a large new Special School.”

“Grace Church claims to be providing a “community hub” but residents don’t want or need it. The established churches and many of the schools provide community spaces. Kempston Hammers Sports & Social Club, situated just by the proposed development, provides a wealth of social and sporting activities for all ages.  There are recently modernised facilities provided at the Centenary Hall by Kempston Town Council, and space at the Addison Centre, the Gurdwara and others.”

“There is also no need for houses here. They are not required under the Council’s Local Plan; more specifically applications were made for inclusion in that plan but rejected.  The houses, which would not normally be allowed, are proposed purely as an “enabling development” to help pay for the Community Hub. For this reason, Grace Church claim that they can’t even afford to make an allowance for affordable housing.”

Mohammad Yasin MP added “Building on the floodplain is unnecessary as this housing will be in excess of the planned developments under the Council's local plan. It would only serve to put residents at further risk. Councillor James Valentine and I opposed the previous proposal and will again be standing up for residents in opposition to this unwanted and unnecessary proposal. Rather than fighting against the community, I would urge Grace Community Church to speak with residents to understand what they want in their local community."

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