'Is it time our town council took the reins on Land South of High Street?'

Land South of High Street
Land South of High Street

Leighton-Linslade Town Council is considering creating its own Neighbourhood Plan amid growing concerns about the lack of progress behind Land South of High Street.

At a meeting of the town council’s policy and finance committee, it was agreed to earmark £3,000 on a scoping exercise.

This would entail a document by planning consultants exploring the pros and cons of the town council adopting a Neighbourhood Plan to help guide future developments.

Gennaro Borrelli, chairman of LB First, told the LBO: “I know that a number of town councillors are equally as frustrated as we are about the lack of action on Land South of High Street, specifically following a public consultation with much money spent on it.”

The Land South of High Street site has lain dormant for 12 years despite a Central Beds Council-led initiative to regenerate the area.

An application by developer Mayfair 500 to build an apartment building of 20 flats behind the Post Office building in Church Square has gained large opposition – with hundreds of objection letters from the public as well as the town council.

Mr Borrelli added: “We feel, along with the town council, that one of the best ways to protect the land and stop this piecemeal approach from developers would be to have a Neighbourhood Plan specifically for that site.

“Once adapted, it would make it a lot harder for these planning applications to happen, and CBC would have to listen to the wants and needs of Leighton Buzzard.

“In planning terms, it would help us a lot.”

A town council spokesman added: “Based on the opinion provided by the planning consultant, the town council will decide the merits or otherwise in creating a Neighbourhood Plan or similar document.”

In October last year, a CBC planning officer admitted in an email that Land South of High Street was no longer a priority, causing dismay.

A development brief for the land was first adopted by Central Beds Council back in 2012, and promised to revitalise the town centre with a 30-shop retail area anchored by a major store.

In December 2016, consultants GVA reported that retailers had little interest in the potential development, although there was healthy demand from the leisure sector, mid to high range restaurants, and some entertainment providers such as a small cinema and a hotel.