Dunstable's Market Town Regeneration Fund initiatives
Street Cleansing - enhanced town centre (completed)
A Dunstable Town Council visitor survey showed that 46% of respondents said cleanliness was a negative aspect of the town centre.
This project will seek to change people’s perceptions of the town centre. It will employ an additional resource, under the town council’s existing Town Ranger scheme, that is dedicated to keeping the town centre highly cleansed by being available full time and using specialist cleansing equipment to keep clean pavements, signage and shop fronts clean of dirt, detritus, chewing gum, graffiti etc.
Architectural lighting (completed)
The aim of this scheme is also to highlight some of the town’s most attractive features by showcasing some of its most important gateway buildings. Initially this scheme has focused on Priory House and Grove House.
Support works for Priory House restoration
The aim is to undertake key restoration to the nationally and internationally important Grade 2* listed Priory House on High Street South. The Market Town Regeneration Fund and access to Historic England funding provides an opportunity to complete the restoration of the vaulted undercroft, the first phase of which was completed in 2011.
New entrance features for Priory Gardens
Priory and Grove House Gardens are the two most prestigious open spaces in Dunstable (both having achieved Green Flag excellence awards). The town council’s visitor survey saw 46 per cent of respondents rate the town centre gardens as being very positive aspects. This project will see a new entrance feature developed for Priory Gardens from the A5 (to mirror the one created for Grove House Gardens in 2010) with the aim of bringing the gardens more into the town centre and promoting them as important gateway features for the town centre.
In addition, the project will also complete the restoration of the Grade 1 Priory Gate Way (the A505, Church Street entrance to the gardens) by adding replacement new gates to the restored ancient structure.
Bennett’s Splash Park and Splashside café (completed)
This project has created a brand-new splash park and associated catering outlet in Bennett Memorial Recreation Ground. Bennett’s Splash Park is situated next to the existing sports pavilion, two thirds of which has been transformed into a new cafeteria area called the Splashside Café that overlooks the splash park.
As Bennett Memorial Recreation Ground is on the edge of the town centre (only 200m from the town market), this new facility will serve as both an important new facility for the growing population of Dunstable and to attract new visitors to the town and increase footfall.
It is anticipated that the splash park will attract between 15,000 and 20,000 visits during the opening period and the facility will serve as a westerly town centre anchor attraction. Ashton Square Car Park (the main town centre car park) will serve the new facility.
The Splashside Café is designed to be a large, flexible, open space that can be used throughout the year for community and private hirers so the town will also benefit from new additional community space in a very attractive setting.
New signage, street furniture and town centre approaches
This project will be delivered after the de-trunking of the A5. It will standardise, brand and improve directional and services signage in and around the town centre, as well as adding new street furniture.
The scheme will include town centre signage from the White Lion Busway stop as well as repairing the High Street South raised beds. This project will also seek to promote the heritage of the town more effectively, as well as new features such as the Grove Skate Park and Bennett’s Splash Park and Splashside Café.
Dunstable is a relatively large urban market town that directly borders Luton, Houghton Regis, Caddington, Totternhoe and Kensworth.
Whilst the town centre is currently relatively vibrant, it has had issues in recent years with high town centre vacancy rates (approximately 17 per cent).
The Market Town Regeneration Fund initiatives will have a lasting impact on the vibrancy and attractiveness of Dunstable’s town centre, improve perceptions of the town and deliver ongoing benefits for the growing and diversifying population of Dunstable.