Surrounding areas should benefit after research facility approved in Cranfield
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Applicant Arc Aerosystems Limited submitted full plans for a research and development building and a logistics premises at Stilliters Farm in Moulsoe Road.
The 4.2-acre site is two agricultural fields used for grazing associated with the farm and separated by an established tree-lined hedgerow, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.
“It contains a single-storey stable building,” said the report. “This area isn’t allocated for development in CBC’s Local Plan and is in the open countryside.
“It’s not supported as a matter of principle. But it’s located immediately next to a wider area of land allocated as a ‘significant development in the countryside’ containing Cranfield Airport, Cranfield University and Cranfield Technology Park.
“The scheme is considered sustainable and found to be acceptable on balance.”
Senior planning officer David Gauntlett said: “There are two buildings to serve the applicant, which is an aerospace technology company specialising in the development of sustainable air transport technologies.
“The layout includes service yards to serve the buildings, with landscaping and parking.”
Chief executive officer Dr Seyed Mohseni told the committee the company was founded in 2017 at Cranfield Technology Park by a group of academics and industrial professionals.
Their aim was “to develop one of the most exciting air transport solutions for remote areas and communities, not supported by customary transport, with aircraft which run on sustainable fuel and on an electric propulsion system”, he explained.
Senior planner with Robinson and Hall Abel Bunu said: “While the site lies outside the settlement envelope, it’s a continuous area of land designated within the Local Plan for significant facilities in the countryside.
“The Local Plan makes clear its support for the development of education, innovation, research and development industries, particularly around the current high technology centres such as Cranfield University.
“The proposals for new employment opportunities need to show that a rural location is required for technical and operational reasons. In this case, it has to be a site close to an airfield for testing prototype aircraft.”
Cranfield Parish Council raised no objection, but called for “consideration to be given to the impact of the proposals on the surrounding countryside”.
Conservative Clifton, Henlow and Langford councillor Richard Wenham described it as “an exciting project which will help contribute to the growth of Cranfield as an aerospace cluster, which is much to the benefit of Central Bedfordshire and surrounding areas”.
Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Victoria Harvey added: “I like the sustainability elements, such as the beautiful hawthorn hedge down the middle of a field, which has been preserved.
“There’s a high biodiversity net gain. It looks to the future of low carbon aircraft. This is the cutting edge of sustainability, which this council supports.
“I’m deeply disappointed public transport didn’t ask for a contribution. We need a sum for buses because if you have a poor service people won’t use it.”
Councillors approved the plans.