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Meeting rejects Grace Church proposals to develop land next to Kempston Hammers

Councillor James Valentine (Borough Councillor for Kempston West) reports: "I chaired the last night’s packed meeting called by Protect Kempston's Flood Plain.

There were impassioned speeches from visiting speakers and the floor, notably from the vicars of All Saints Church and the Church of the Transfiguration, who both questioned whether the church would provide a hall that would truly serve the whole of the community.

I summed up the meeting as follows: “I think everyone appreciates that the Church wants a permanent home but the controversy is about its proposed location on a recently-inundated flood plain in an uniquely historic and picturesque spot.

The controversy also extends to the community use of the church which is not seen as being required by the numerous Kempston churches, charities and community halls that already serve the community in various ways.

The most controversial aspect is the addition of 80 houses which are not a requirement of the Local Plan, but which are to be built purely to help finance the church.

One could say, let’s wait for the planning application to go in and then it will be sorted out, one way or another. But I can envisage that the planning process itself will turn into an almighty battle that would divide the community and I would say to the Church, is that what you want?

So please reflect carefully on what you wish to achieve, but as a Community Church you should surely be bringing the community together, not dividing it.”

Many thanks to everyone involved in organising the meeting and please join Protect Kempston's Flood Plain if you haven’t already.

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