Plans for new link road between M1 and A6 dubbed a ‘lunatic scheme’

Map of the proposed route
Map of the proposed route

Plans for a new road linking the M1 and the A6 north of Luton have been dubbed “a lunatic scheme”.

A rail freight exchange is part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s two-and-three-quarter-mile project from junction 11a of the M1 to the A6 Barton Road.

But the development is strongly opposed by Luton Borough Council, which says concerns raised about the proposals have been ignored.

Its objections are big enough to be listed in a separate Appendix to a report to the executive about the new route.

Councillor David Franks said: “You have the whole-hearted supoort of the Lib Dem group for the thrust of your objection.

“This is a lunatic scheme which is going to make even more east-west traffic use New Bedford Road, Stockingstone Road and Hitchin Road, rather than the signposted route.”

The road would be part-single and dual carriageway running close to the Keech Hospice Care site.

It would pass between Lower Sundon, and the nearby Luton housing estates in Marsh Farm, Sundon Park and Bramingham.

Cllr Paul Castleman told the executive the planning application is premature and has been submitted in advance of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan.

“It’s based around the road and the private car, rather than more sustainable transport and inclusive forms of mobility, such as walking, cycling and public transport,” he said.

“The scheme will increase air pollution resulting in a negative impact on health and well-being.”

Cllr Tom Shaw described how one of the “gateways into Luton” would “run right through the centre” of Marsh Farm.

“What Central Beds has done is completely ignored all the objections that were raised over the last 18 months to two years,” he said.

“All they’ve done is come forward with exactly the same plan, so we’ve got to object to it,” he added.

“You imagine in the mornings what it’s going to be like with thousands of cars coming through one of our main council estates in the town, and we’re getting nothing out of it as far as social housing is concerned.”

If approved, the project would free up land for the potential development of up to 4,000 homes and nearly 50 acres acres of employment land.

The borough council received a consultation request from CBC to provide comments on the plans.

The scheme does not include a connection between the A6 and the A505, according to a report to the executive.

In the absence of this, the route “does not fulfil the function of an appropriate east west strategic road around the north of Luton”, said the report.

“In stopping short at the A6 there is real risk that the scheme will have a harmful impact on Luton.

“It is understood that the developer will be expected to provide the substantial funding gap for the road, to the detriment of all other contributions.

“As a matter of principle, any planning application for this scheme should be determined after the examination of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015-2035.

“While the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan is at an advanced stage, it is not formally adopted and part of the statutory development plan,” added the report.

“The examination of the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan is therefore the appropriate avenue for the significant impacts of this scheme and the associated strategic development site to be assessed.”

Luton’s executive agreed for the council’s corporate director place and infrastructure to submit a response to CBC requesting that its objection and concerns are fully considered in determining the M1-A6 link road plans.

In response to these concerns, a Central Beds Council spokesman said: “The road would run from the A6 through to junction 11a of the M1 motorway and then joining up to the A5-M1 Link Road too.

“It would therefore help to relieve current congestion and improve safety on the A6 into Luton, as well as significantly reducing congestion in local villages like Streatley and Sundon which are currently used as rat-runs.

“It is likely to take traffic away from the busy Luton town centre and onto larger and more suitable roads instead, thereby providing a better route for traffic to get to Luton airport, which has ambitions to expand, as well as providing an excellent link through to jobs in the expanding business parks in Chalton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

“The road will also support much-needed homes on the northern edge of Luton, including affordable homes which will help to address Luton’s unmet housing needs.

“The planning application also includes a number of upgrades to the local footpaths and cycleways and these would link to the railway line, so this proposal does offer sustainable transport options too.”