Approved Housing Complex May Be Replaced by 24/7 Electric Vehicle Charging Center

A housing complex that received approval may now be canceled in favor of constructing a 24/7 electric vehicle charging center.

On a half-acre plot on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, plans were approved for the construction of 27 apartments.

The applicant, Metalcraft Developments, submitted plans to the Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) to install two electric substations and compartments for 36 vehicles on the site.

The project would involve a change in land use, the installation of 18 electric vehicle charging points, landscaping, surface replacement, and other external works, as reported by the Leighton Buzzard Observer.

Development consultants ELG Planning stated that this location had been an "undeveloped piece of land that had remained vacant for an extended period despite being allocated for employment use under successive CBC local plans."

In their planning application, the company stated, "The adjacent land is primarily commercial in nature, with an industrial area to the north and a gymnasium to the east, as well as nearby access to McDonald's."

"The residential development was approved on the basis that there was no longer a need to retain the land in employment use and occupy underutilized areas."

If approved, the facility will operate 24/7 and be open on weekends. Signs with instructions and charging devices, as well as contact information for assistance, will be provided.

The statement added, "If issues arise that cannot be resolved remotely, a local engineer will be dispatched, and a team of engineers will regularly visit for general facility maintenance and charger servicing."

"These will be fast-charging devices, and the supply cost will be determined by the operator based on market rates."

It continued, "There is a growing need for the proposed facility, as the UK has committed to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050."

"Electric vehicles offer one of the means to reduce emissions."

"This area represents a negligible proportion of the overall land supply for local authority employment, and there have been no development proposals in nearly 20 years that have provided employment opportunities."

It was also claimed in the application that, if approved, it "will contribute to the identified need for increased electric vehicle charging infrastructure, aligning with the council's sustainability, climate, and transport objectives."

Grovebury Asset Management received permission to build a two-bedroom flat in January 2022, as reported by the Leighton Buzzard Observer.

Independent CBC member for Leighton Linslade West, Victoria Harvey, described the location as "not the best place" for housing due to its proximity to a fast-food restaurant, McDonald's, and a petrol station on the southern outskirts of town.

She said at the time, "I feel sorry for people who will live there. You're stuck on a busy road, even despite viewing. It's not a good development. Unfortunately, it's hard to refuse."

Leighton Linslade Town Council objected on grounds of road safety, the need for adequate noise reduction, potential job losses, and potential flood risk.

The CBC Development Management Committee will consider the electric vehicle charging scheme in the future.

The proposed plan envisions the electric vehicle charging center operating 24/7 (photo from the archive).