Campaign brewing against new flats, as 7 gym operators show interest in Leighton Buzzard town centre site

A campaign is mobilising against controversial plans to build a block of flats in the centre of Leighton Buzzard.

Developer Mayfair 500 has formally submitted its planning application for the tower block located to the rear of Church Square, with some tweaks including a reduction in the number of flats from 26 to 18.

Mayfair 500 proposals

Mayfair 500 proposals

The commercial ground floor space of the property is also tipped to become a gym, with seven gym operators expressing an interest.

But LB First chairman Gennaro Borrelli warned that the proposal could be the death knell for the Land South of High Street scheme – which aims to use the land for retail purposes – and added that a campaign to stop it is mobilising.

He told the LBO: “There’s still an issue regarding access and parking. A good question to ask is whether another gym is needed in the town given we’re well provided with gyms.

“Although Mayfair said they would address potential noise by using triple glazing, that doesn’t get around the fact that during summer people will open their windows and it backs on to the gardens of the Black Lion and Golden Bell pubs who will be playing music.

Mayfair 500 plans

Mayfair 500 plans

“If they have noise restrictions imposed on their licenses it will be devastating. We’re talking about two of the oldest and most vibrant pubs in the town.”

Mr Borelli also criticised Central Beds Council for failing to purchase the land, as recommended by consultants GVA in their analysis of the Land South of High Street scheme, and said the flats could block access to the rest of the South Side.

He added: “We have over 2,500 houses being built on the eastern development - is there really any need for high rise flats on the one piece of land that remains in our town centre? That land should be used for expanding what’s on offer in the town centre - amenities, leisure and more retail. People like quirky market towns and they’re fed up of the same boring retail parks.”

A public exhibition of the proposals was held at the Golden Bell pub in December last year, and according to consultants Iceni one of the key issues was noise levels from the nearby pubs.

They stated: “The noise impact assessment submitted in support of the scheme identifies that during the surveys undertaken, the average level of noise measured was slightly above the recommended noise levels for residential spaces. It is identified that the external building fabric would need to be carefully designed to achieve the recommended internal levels.”

The application’s design and access statement focused heavily on Leighton Buzzard’s historical architecture, and stated that the project’s design reflected that.

Residents have until June 13 to submit their comments on the application. These can be made via email at sarah.tucker@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or by writing to Central Beds planning, quoting planning application CB/19/01241/FULL.