Leighton Buzzard business owners who were worried about pedestrianisation now 'strongly support it', says council

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Leighton Buzzard businesses who were worried about pedestrianisation of the town centre now strongly support it, it has been claimed by Central Beds Council.

In an update today from the council on progress in transforming the high street into public open space during the pandemic, Cllr Ian Dalgarno said some traders who had reservations about the changes back in June, were now fully on board.

The council says work is to start soon on removing road markings on the pedestrianised Leighton Buzzard High Street before it introduces additional planters, benches and a parasol to support outdoor dining.

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Cllr Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Safety, explained: “We want to take steps so that residents and visitors feel what used to be the road is now public open space.

The market following pedestrianisationThe market following pedestrianisation
The market following pedestrianisation

"We’re looking at examples of how other towns have used colour and street art within recently pedestrianised roads as this will help normalise using the space that has been created.

"We are also keen to see more businesses make use of outdoor space for trading there, so we’ve set up a quick, simple system to gain permission. The first step is to set up a mock-up, take a picture and email it to [email protected].

"We’re also looking to put a six-metre parasol or other type of canopy at the stone seating circle where the town’s Christmas tree now goes.”

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Further improvements are planned for both Bridge Street and Hockliffe Street to aid social distancing alongside temporary shelters and more seating in West Street for bus users. There will also be a barrier installed to control access to the High Street.

Cllr Dalgarno, however, warned: “There is a high demand for all kinds of highways street furniture as every council in is making changes during the pandemic. This means it is impossible to give accurate timescales because of the stress on the supply chain. But we progress the changes and improvements as quickly as we can.”

He added: “We will continue to listen to feedback on how the scheme is working and remain open to making changes. But it is pleasing to hear feedback from some of the business owners who initially were worried about pedestrianisation have now completely changed their minds and now strongly support it.”

“Although currently the pedestrianisation scheme is temporary, there is no set date for its withdrawal as this will depend on government guidance relating to the pandemic and keeping people safe. A decision to extend the High Street closure would be subject to a public consultation. Until then we will continue to listen and respond to feedback on how the changes are working.”

What's your view on the town centre changes? Email [email protected]