New village centre proposed in Bidford

Bidford (picture from Google)

Plans to create a new village centre for Bidford have been revealed.

During last week’s Cabinet meeting at Stratford District Council a new Site Allocations Plan was presented to members, detailing a number of interesting new development proposals in the district.

The plan, which still has to go through a number of hoops before it is adopted, is seeking to safeguard a site in the heart of Bidford, for the creation of a village centre.

It says the land on Waterloo Road would include public space and a mix of retail, commercial and business uses.

Arguing the need for such a proposal, the plan explains that while Bidford has seen significant growth in recent years, it lacks the services and facilities of other similarly sized rural centres such as Alcester and Southam.

With the busy B439 running through the village, the historic high street is separated from the newer residential and employment areas to the north.

The plan states: “The High Street is now on the southern edge of the village rather than at its heart.

“Whilst both the Core Strategy and the made Neighbourhood Plan rightly seek to strengthen the high street as a focus for retail, Bidford-on-Avon lacks a civic centre directly accessible to the majority of its population, whether residents or workers.”

It adds: “By focusing local facilities in a location where they can better be sustained, helping to support a thriving local economy, this proposal could also help to revitalise the historic high street as a destination for leisure related retail activities.”

Only last month an application to build up to 50 affordable houses on the site of the proposed new village centre, was rejected, with Bidford councillor Daren Pemberton arguing passionately against the idea, citing the loss of potential employment land in the village.

Elizabeth Uggerløse, clerk at Bidford Parish Council, said: “This is something we certainly support, we want to safeguard that land as a commercial site, rather than a residential one. Since the 2011 census the number of houses in Bidford has grown by 36 per cent.

“We have to acknowledge that the centre of gravity in the village has moved, it’s not something we wanted, but much of the housing has been built in the north. Everything is a bit on hold at the moment because of Covid, but we’d like to develop a bit of a café society at this new site.”