Traffic transformation could conjure major business investment

Major investment and development opportunities in part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc will be released with the £950 million transformation of two roundabouts that cause huge traffic disruption in Bedfordshire, according to commercial property consultants Kirkby Diamond.

Planning permission has been granted to transform the route between the A1 Black Cat and A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabouts and improve journeys between Cambridge and Milton Keynes. It is expected to cost between £810 and £950 million. Both existing roundabouts will be upgraded to free-flowing junctions, with a new junction at Cambridge Road.

Drivers currently experience significant congestion and delays at The Black Cat roundabout which is notoriously challenging especially during the rush hour. The busy roundabout in Bedford is a key link between the A1 and the A421, connecting Cambridge, Cambourne, St Neots, and Bedford.

Local communities have long campaigned for the improvements. The plans include a new 10-mile dual carriageway and junctions. Highways England called the go ahead a major milestone.

Andrew Clarke, Kirkby Diamond commercial agent in Bedford, said: “I think we will see significantly more business able to take place to the east of Bedford when this happens. The Black Cat roundabout is a notorious bottleneck for traffic and having to allow extra time for journeys is at the very least inconvenient and at worst an actual waste of valuable time.

“These upgrades should make the use of the A421 a more attractive proposition when heading out of Bedford to the east. The upshot therefore is that more businesses will feel able to make the opposite journey and be more willing to come over to Bedford.”

Paul Quy, a commercial agent who lives near the Black Cat roundabout, said: “I have found that commercial occupiers have avoided St Neots and Sandy due to traffic delays caused by the Black Cat roundabout. Travel times to Cambridge are very sporadic due to traffic, tractors and accidents. I believe there will now be further development along the new sections which will promote further growth in the area.”

Grant Whittaker, building consultancy associate at Kirkby Diamond, is a St Neots resident. He said: “I think the upgrade works to complete the section of dual carriageway will have a massive impact on the local area around St Neots as it will remove a lot of through traffic. From a commercial point of view, it will open up new areas for development in the key Cambridge-Oxford Arc which brings new investment and opportunities to the area, benefitting the local community as a whole.”