Background: Flitwick town centre regeneration consultation
Flitwick is a busy town for its size and has an important role as a rail transport hub. The train station serves not only Flitwick, but a very wide area around the town and nearby communities. The train station links Central Bedfordshire to London St. Pancras and beyond. It offers an important commuter service and generates over 1.6 million passenger journeys per year. Network Rail anticipates that this will rise due to timetable changes that will increase the number of peak trains. This is likely to attract more commuting residents from the new residential developments in the town and the wider area.
Flitwick also provides the home station for Center Parcs Woburn Forest. As a result, its profile has increased, with considerable promotion of transport links to Center Parcs via Flitwick in London locations such as Waterloo and King Cross. Flitwick Station also links and provides important access to the Millbrook Testing Facility and Technology Park and other major local employers, including Lockheed Martin.
The town is faced with a number of ongoing challenges that affect residents, shoppers and commuters. Many of these are based on how the layout of Flitwick has developed over time. There is no clear single ‘town centre’ in Flitwick. Instead, the town has three main zones – the station area; the Tesco superstore and the library area; and the original High Street.
The Tesco superstore acts as a 'pull' for shoppers beyond the town, but the overall number of retail or service outlets per population is low compared to other towns in Central Bedfordshire. For every 1,000 residents, there are three retail or service units in Flitwick. By comparison, in Biggleswade there are eight retail/service units per 1,000 residents, and in Ampthill, there are seven retail/service units per 1,000 residents.
The ambition is to create a more joined-up town centre for residents, encourage commuters to spend more of their time and money in Flitwick, improve traffic flow in and out of the station and improve the overall experience of visiting Flitwick.