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Road projects provide £2 billion boost to business

The A5-M1 Link, a 2.8-mile dual carriageway between Dunstable and  the new junction 11A on the M1 and and the Woodside Link, a 1.8-mile road to connect a number of industrial parks to the new M1 junction, are attracting new businesses to the Dunstable area.

Highways England’s major projects director Iftikhar Mir said: “The M1 is the backbone of the national road network, and the improved links that Highways England and Central Bedfordshire Council are creating near Dunstable will help businesses of any size to connect to their customers anywhere in the UK and beyond.

“Whether it is helping an established business invest and grow or attracting new operators to the area, these new link roads will benefit Bedfordshire, the region and the entire country.”

Construction started on both schemes in 2015, since when more than 50 new deals have been completed for industrial and distribution units across Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard, creating nearly 2,500 new jobs. 

Fitness equipment retailer Bodybuilding.com, founded in the USA, opened its European HQ in Houghton Regis in 2015.

Caroline Underwood, vice-president of operations UK, said: “Business has more than doubled for Bodybuilding.com since it arrived in the UK and our current warehouse and office facility has plenty of room to create more jobs.

“Improved transport links to the M1, via the new junction 11A and the Woodside Link, are another key part of the infrastructure, offering fast access to the M1 and airport links for quick and easy transport to international markets.”

Signature Flatbreads is the UK’s leading flatbreads company, producing bakery products for the UK-wide market, including a selection of flatbreads for leading fast food restaurants and the main UK supermarket brands. 

Grown from a small family business started in 1984 in London (then called Honeytop), the company has become a global leader in flatbread production, with state-of-the-art bakeries in the UK and India.

Commercial director David Laurence said: “Given that we have a 24-hour production facility, we have a constant flow of delivery vehicles collecting goods with booking slots to meet at their end destination.

“We rely heavily on the road network to deliver our products so better, less congested links thanks to the A5-M1 and Woodside links will make it easier for us to meet our commitments to our clients.

Overall, the investment already generated or planned for the area so far is worth an estimated £2 billion.

The £162 million A5-M1 Link scheme will unlock up to 40 hectares of land for businesses and provide the infrastructure for 7,000 homes to be built to the north of Houghton Regis.

It will also provide better access to the M1 from the A5 and reduce congestion in Dunstable town centre. The £38.3 million Woodside Link project will also reduce congestion on local roads and provide better access to the M1 from within Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

Cited among the benefits of setting a business up in the area, easy access to the M1 and the national road network came top, followed among others by the growing availability of a range of skilled staff thanks in part to the future HRN1 housing development, which will bring more than 5,000 new homes to the north of Houghton Regis and which the two new road schemes are making possible.

The business parks are filling up fast but new sites are being developed which will unlock an additional 52 hectares of employment land with the sites potentially starting to be occupied from winter 2017/18. 

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