We are excited to share our proposals to transform part of Leighton Buzzard to ensure the town centre continues to be a thriving, bustling and vibrant place.
High Streets nationally have been struggling, but Leighton Buzzard’s is performing well. We want to protect it and boost it by developing the Council owned land south of the High Street.
The Council owns several parcels of land in the area south of the High Street including the Westlands Care Home and Day Centre site, which is soon to be vacated, and Duncombe Drive car park.
Over the last six months, the Council has carried out extensive work to review development opportunities for this land. Our work has shown that, at this current time, the most likely demand is residential led mixed-use. Residential use would mean more people living, working and spending their money in Leighton Buzzard town which will help to ensure the town continues to be a thriving, bustling and vibrant place.
Whilst future development is likely to be new homes, a residential led mixed-use site could include a small amount of additional retail, whilst still avoiding over-providing retail which could lead to empty units and undermine the success of the High Street. Through our community engagement work we have been told there is a strong desire for a community / cultural facility in the town.
Car parking studies have shown that although Duncombe Drive car park is well used, there is plenty of parking elsewhere in the town, so consideration is being given to releasing some of the car park space, to increase the amount of space that could be developed.
The benefits of increasing the size of the development land are two-fold. It makes it a much more attractive opportunity for developers to invest in giving us the best chance of making the biggest difference to the town and gives more opportunity to explore whether a new community / cultural facility is a possibility.
The proposed approach strikes the best balance between meeting the Council’s objectives to transform the area, support the thriving High Street, retain positive community amenities such as car parking and explores a new community / cultural facility in the town centre without cost to the taxpayer.
The Council is now consulting on its proposed approach before making a decision to proceed. The consultation is an opportunity for residents, businesses and stakeholders in the area to give their feedback on the plans. The feedback, along with other information will be considered by Members of Central Bedfordshire Council before making a decision.