Transformational growth in Biggleswade - FAQs
What ‘transformational growth’ is happening in Biggleswade?
Central Bedfordshire is at the heart of the Oxford - Cambridge Arc, playing a vital role in delivering economic and housing growth. 20,000 new homes are planned over the next 20 years in addition to the 23,000 homes that are already allocated or have planning permission.
In Biggleswade, c.3,000 new homes are set to be delivered in the next 15 years. Less than an hour’s commute to London, 30 minutes from Cambridge, Luton and Bedford, sited directly on the A1, Biggleswade is of significant interest to people looking to create their future family homes within a quality environment, and to companies looking for an affordable site within an ideal national transport radius. However, the town cannot support further housing and commercial growth without significant infrastructure investment.
The successful Housing Infrastructure Fund bid means that the we can support new and existing communities in Biggleswade by ensuring they have the transport, schools and power to sustain the homes being built.
What is the Housing Infrastructure Fund?
The Housing Infrastructure Fund is a government capital grant programme of up to £5.5 billion, for new physical infrastructure which will unlock sites in the areas of greatest housing demand and help to deliver thousands of new homes in England.
Funding is being awarded to local authorities on a highly competitive basis. We submitted a detailed business case bid for the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) in March 2019. Full funding was announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on 17 August 2019.
More information on HIF is available on the GOV.UK website.
Why did Biggleswade win?
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and its housing delivery agency Homes England assessed our bid on its value for money, deliverability, and strategic approach.
The bid was prepared by us, working with:
- Biggleswade Town Council
- Network Rail
- UK Power Networks
- Biggleswade Schools
- Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charities
- UK Regeneration
- Hallam Land
- Highways England
- Homes England
- Infrastructure and Projects Authority
How much will Biggleswade receive and what will the funding pay for?
We bid for £69.6 million of grant funding. The money will be used to fund:
- building a new secondary school
- a transport interchange at the train station
- a replacement bridge for people, cyclists and horse riders to the north of Biggleswade where the Green Wheel Bridleway crosses the East Coast Mainline
- power infrastructure for the local community, allowing for ever increasing demands and business growth.
How much will it cost to deliver the infrastructure?
Overall, approximately £120 million of investment of which £69.6 million is from HIF, is required to deliver the four infrastructure schemes. The entire Biggleswade programme, including the private sector investment to bring forward the c.3,000 homes, will deliver a £1 billion investment in a key part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
When will the infrastructure be delivered?
We bid for funding ahead of housing being built in order to ensure essential infrastructure is in place ahead of town growth. The infrastructure will be delivered in phases and by 2024/25.
Why do we need new power infrastructure?
The proposed 400kv substation is vital to meet increased electricity demand and to support the expansion of Biggleswade. The substation will include two transformers which are needed to power the local area.
Currently, Biggleswade draws around 40MW capacity per annum and is close to reaching this capacity. The 400kV substation will initially boost power capacity by an additional 80MW, allowing for residential and employment growth, with a total of 240MW available in the future as demand increases e.g. through home electric car charging points.
The 400kV substation will need a site close to existing electricity pylons to the East of Biggleswade. A provisional site has been identified on council owned land, which is subject to planning.
Why do we need a bridleway bridge to the North of Biggleswade?
Lindsells Crossing is where Biggleswade Bridleway No. 11 crosses the East Coast Main Line. We are working with Network Rail to replace Lindsell’s Crossing with a bridleway bridge to make the bridge safer and more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and horses. The bridge will form part of Biggleswade’s Green Wheel, a walking and cycling route around the outskirts of Biggleswade.
The level crossing is used to cross four tracks of the East Coast Main Line and is a means for walkers, cyclists and equestrians to cross the railway. It has been identified by Network Rail as a high-risk crossing and we are looking to install a bridge to improve safety.
What is the transport interchange at Biggleswade station?
We've submitted a planning application to invest a total of £2.3 million in a new rail and bus interchange next to Biggleswade railway station.
The proposal, will deliver several benefits to the station and surrounding area, including:
- improved pedestrian access to the station and the interchange
- improved bus links to and from rail services
- enhanced public space using high quality materials
- real-time bus and rail arrival / departure information
- re-configured road layout, including an extension to the 20mph speed limit
Other improvements planned by Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railways at the station include:
- accessible, step-free, access to all platforms
- improved secure cycle parking
- accessible toilets with baby change facility
The changes will make it easier for people to switch between different modes of transport and encourage people to use sustainable modes of travel.
The plans are the result of our collaboration with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway. We jointly funded this with Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.
You view the planning application online.
Where will the new school be built?
The Biggleswade HIF funding is to support the delivery of new secondary school places in accordance with our emerging Schools for the Future Programme. Our education team will continue to work with local schools over the coming months and years to review all options and determine the most appropriate solution.
For the purpose of the HIF bid the provisional site identified was the council owned land to the East of Baden Powell way adjacent to the proposed East of Biggleswade Village. The proposal is subject to feasibility consultation and planning.
When and where are the 3,000 new homes going to be built?
13 housing sites have been identified in Biggleswade and the surrounding area which have the potential to provide approximately 3,000 new homes. Several of these sites already have outline planning permission for 2,201 homes and other sites are included in the draft Local Plan as proposed Local Plan allocations, subject to the outcome of the Examination in Public.
These homes will be delivered in phases over the next 15 years. All will be required to satisfy planning conditions.
How can local companies bid for work to support the delivery of this housing and infrastructure?
We encourage local and regional businesses to tender for public sector contracts in Central Bedfordshire. Tender opportunities can be found on our website.
We will be working with other organisations, including Network Rail and UK Power Networks to deliver the infrastructure.
We will be engaging with land owners and developers of the proposed housing in Biggleswade to discuss how local suppliers can be involved in these schemes.
When will we receive the money and by when does it need to be spent?
We have signed a Grant Determination Agreement which outlines the terms and conditions of the HIF grant, including receipt of funds.
We have agreed a spending profile and key milestones for all four HIF funded projects and are monitoring are progress against these.
HIF funding needs to be spent by March 2024.
Will there be a future bidding round of HIF?
As far as we are aware, there are currently no plans for a second bidding round of HIF.
How will the expenditure be monitored?
We have signed up to an Assurance Framework which requires regular reporting to Homes England on the progress of our project. The Assurance Framework includes regular reporting, an annual performance review, and a robust approach to monitoring and evaluation.
Page updated: 9 April 2021