Residents admit fears over Barnfield College relocation plan

Barnfield College, New Bedford Road
Barnfield College, New Bedford Road

Residents in Bushmead have admitted their fears after it was announced that Barnfield College intends to sell up and move into central Luton.

On Thursday the college unveiled its three-year development plan– which includes the intention to sell its sites in New Bedford Road and Enterprise Way in favour of a move into town.

Principal Tim Eyton-Jones said that the existing sites are “no longer fit for purpose” and that a move to a central location “would benefit all”.

As the relocation is unlikely to be financially supported by the government, the college is looking to sell its sites into private ownership.

This once again raises the possibilty of a residential development on the New Bedford Road site, part of which was the subject of a planning application for up to 39 homes, a primary school and a care home in 2012.

It was later withdrawn after a campaign by Barnfield Development Action Group.

On Thursday’s announcement Sue Gold, member of the BDAG, told the Luton News: “We have been talking about it a lot, it goes against everything the college have told us.

“We are told one thing and another thing happens– they have not talked to us about this at all.

“The fight was never off for us, we may have won last time around but we have all been vigilant.”

The main concern for residents living close to New Bedford Road is the loss of playing fields which were given to the college by Luton Borough Council in the 1990s.

Rubina Zaidi said: “For many years the field was maintained at public expense and many residents are concerned that the new owners would not do that.

“It is a landmark and we are living in a part of the country were there is less than the average amount of green space.

“There are also genuine concerns over the effect this could have on traffic.

“As it is the rush hour traffic between New Bedford Road and Old Bedford Road is horrendous and it will only get worse.”

In a statement the BDAG questioned Barnfield’s “very expensive and disruptive” plans to move.

It added: “We recognise that Barnfield College needs to maintain the suitability of its buildings but question whether they have in fact really compared the option of improving the New Bedford Road site, with some funding from the disposal of their second site near to Homebase, with the apparent idea of a totally new location for the college.”