Aerial view of the proposed vehicular testing and research track

Cranfield University has submitted a planning application (CB/21/00125/FULL) for a vehicular testing and research facility. If approved, it will be located at the southern most point of the airfield, close to Townsend Close.

The planning application submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council contains minimal operational information about the proposed facility. The lack of information about the possible noise level generated by the facility in particular led to a council officer objecting to the application.

In a planning memo, Guy Quint, a pollution officer at Central Bedfordshire Council, said he was “surprised” that the applicants had not considered the potential noise impacts of their proposal.

He added that he was “seriously concerned” about the potential noise impacts of this proposal on nearby residents with gardens backing onto the airfield.

The Cranfield and Marston Vale Chronicle contacted the University to find out more about the proposed facility. A University spokesperson said:

“This facility will be for training and research, therefore most of the activity will be analysing results and teaching. The time spent on carrying out the live exercises will be short when compared with the learning activities that will be carried out on the site.

“We anticipate that the majority of exercises will be skids rather than collisions with a small number carried out each week because, as previously stated, the bulk of activity will be teaching and research study.”

When asked about noise and whether this would impact the calculations for the projected noise levels for the jet park when it comes operational, the spokesperson said:

“We are currently in the process of working with a noise consultant and will be submitting a report to Central Bedfordshire Council as part of the planning process.”

They added that the proposed hours of operation are 8am-6.30pm:

“This allows for setting-up and packing-up time, so any activity that may cause noise is likely to be within traditional working hours.”

The University said it is working in partnership with Highways England and the Police’s Forensic Collision Investigation Network to resurface an area of the airfield that is no longer in use.

The facility will enable scientific support of the processes and standards used in roads policing specifically, before and after collisions.

It will for the large part be used as a training site for both Highways England and Police staff. Police and Highways England staff will also work alongside Cranfield academics to further enhance their forensic investigation techniques. The University spokesperson said:

“By improving forensic investigations after collisions and skids it is hoped that motorways and the like can be re-opened quicker after an incident. This facility has been identified as an important development for both the Police and Highways England.”

The planning application can be viewed here and the consultation period is scheduled to end on 24 February 2021.