Sides are drawn in battle over retail parks’ plan
Leighton-Linslade Town Council has officially come out against plans for an out of town retail park in a move that will be welcomed by town traders but puts them at odds with public opinion.
On Wednesday members of the council’s planning committee voted to oppose Barwoods scheme for a brownfield site off Grovebury Road,
Views for and against the development were voiced. It was recognised that a retail site would offer residents of the town greater choice and convenience and would potentially attract shoppers into Leighton rather than going to other, neighbouring towns.
But the planned future development of the south side of the High Street would also offer greater retail choice to shoppers but without the threat to the town centre.
Councillors felt that the timing for an out-of-town retail park was wrong, given the planned developments for the south side of the High Street and Bridge Meadow.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous has also told traders that government opinion is in favour of regenerating town centres and high streets before allowing out of town developments.
In a letter to the MP, Nick Boles, under secretary of state for planning, said: “Town centres are the heart of our communities and we are committed to policies that support their viability and vitality.”
It’s just a week since the LBO launched its online and newspaper poll to discover the strength of feeling among residents and, at the moment, 70 per cent of voters are in favour of the plan.
Currently there are two supersize schemes for shops, a DIY store and a takeaway drive-through off Grovebury Road.
The first is next to Browns, put in by The Claymore Group, to provide a new centre for Homebase along with four smaller units, a “food pod” in the car park area and extensive parking.
Barwood Developments wants a bigger retail park comprising a DIY store, eight more retail units, a takeaway and a cafe/restaurant/public house on land next to the Claymore site.
The under-utilised brownfield site, which stretches over more than eight acres, currently houses dilapidated warehousing. Meanwhile EDS (Holdings) Ltd, are in the pre-planning stage with a scheme for retail and industrial use on the former Camden site opposite which stretches back towards All Saints Church and over Church Meadows.
Speaking on behalf of the developer, Edward Ledwidge of Blue Sky Planning, said: “The Claymore Group is aware of an application for a similar scheme on a neighbouring site. Claymore are confident that their proposal, which has been subject to extensive public consultation is more appropriate for the town, meeting the need for retail warehousing in Leighton Buzzard, bringing much needed jobs to the area but importantly being sympathetic to town centre businesses by restricting the goods sold at the site. In addition, the site is allocated for development in the adopted local plan and the Claymore scheme will result in net additional employment, generating development whilst creating an attractive gateway scheme south of the town”
But what do the public think? Take part in the latest LBO reader poll to gauge opinion ahead of the council decision on the schemes.
We have produced a form for readers to fill in and return to us where you can vote for or against the plans and give any supporting comments.
So don’t delay, fill our form in today and post it off to our office address or drop it in to our collection point at Dillamore’s in Leighton High Street.
We’ll also be running an online vote on our website leightonbuzzardtoday.co.uk, the results of which will be presented to the council, too.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 24 C
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