Beds, Herts & Bucks

Stotfold steam museum plan goes to council

Mortier steam organ
Image caption The Mortier steam organ is one of a large collection which includes fairground rides and steam boats

A multimillion-pound plan to put a private collection of steam engines, fairground rides and mechanical organs on permanent display is going before Central Bedfordshire Council.

Steam enthusiast John Saunders is hoping to put up a new building to house the Saunders Collection on land near Baldock Road, Stotfold.

The scheme will be looked at by the council on Wednesday.

If the plans are backed, the collection could go on public view by summer 2015.

The scheme is expected to create up 70 full and part-time jobs.

Mr Saunders said he hoped to provide a permanent public home for the "fully operational" collection of more than 40 steam machines including fairground rides, steam cars and lorries, and fairground organs.

Image caption The Saunders Collection could be given a permanent public home in Stotfold in Bedfordshire

"This would be the ideal location for tourism and leisure," he said

Officers in a report to the council's development management committee say the plans should be referred to the government as it is a development in an area designated as open countryside.

If the Secretary of State for Communities does not decide to call in the scheme, then officers recommend the plans are approved.

The report concludes: "This development would benefit the rural economy and would benefit existing tourist attractions (such as Stotfold Mill). The benefits of the development would outweigh harm caused by it."

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