Council objects to retail park bid due to ‘differences’ from original scheme

Claymore retail park for Leighton Buzzard
Claymore retail park for Leighton Buzzard

Detailed plans for a retail park on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard are being opposed by town councillors.

Back in November 2013, the Claymore Group received outline approval from Central Beds Council for the £15million Grovebury Road scheme, which included proposals for a DIY store, four smaller warehouse units for bulky goods retailers, a standalone drive-thru restaurant and 277 car parking spaces.

The detailed plans covering the appearance and scale of the buildings, landscaping and site layout, were submitted last month, but have left the town council’s planning and transport committee shaking its head.

At its latest meeting the committee voted (5 in favour, 2 abstentions) to tell CBC that it objects to the scheme on the grounds that the detailed application was “materially different” to the outline permission.

Members had concerns about the proposed size of the retail units, car parking configuration, landscaping, and the nature of the food outlet. Fears were also expressed regarding traffic movement and the potential impact on the town centre. It was proposed and seconded that the Committee recommend objection to the application.

Committee chairman Clive Palmer explained: “Members accept of course that outline planning permission for the development has already been given. However, what we now see with the reserved matters application struck members as being so significantly different from the planning application that was approved that we felt we would wish to object.

“Thus, the planning application envisaged a cafe/restaurant/public house which would, we hope, attract people who might then go on to other of the facilities on the park during their visit and thereby maximise economic benefit.

“What we now see is a drive through facility proposed which will not only lack these wider benefits but would also threaten traffic issues along Grovebury Road.

“In addition, the number of car parking spaces on the development has been materially reduced in the latest plans (318 to 277) from those which were approved earlier.

“Finally, the configuration of the units proposed has been changed with the total space to be occupied by the units less than originally proposed.

“The principle of a retail park here has been approved and, given this, the town council is keen to ensure that the benefits for the town are maximised. However, what we now see in the more detailed proposal we considered recently would fall significantly short in our view of the potential benefits in the original application.”

Claymore says approval of the remaining matters would see construction get under way in “early 2017”. CBC has set a target date for a decision of February 10.

The developer says in its planning statement: “The design of the proposed development is of a modern retail warehouse park comprising large format buildings positioned around a customer car park with a complementary drive-thru restaurant positioned along the road frontage.

“The detailed proposals for the site are considered to be a high quality inclusive design appropriate to the particular circumstances of the site and its surroundings.”

Back in May, EDS Holdings submitted proposals for an rival shopping park at the Camden site, off Grovebury Road, which has yet to go to CBC for a decision.