Aiming to breathe new life into Leighton Buzzard town centre with 'vibrant' South Side development

Councillors are determined to "push forward" with the evolution of Land South of Leighton Buzzard High Street - a "critical development" for the town.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The town council's South Side working party heard several ideas from consultants about what may be possible for the site, including: residential dwellings (c.130), a mixed use community building near to a multi storey car park, several access routes into the High Street, and a 'pocket park' inspired by the historical Rothschild Garden. It was also suggested that commercial units could be established, which could be used for leisure or community purposes instead if retail was "not viable".

Councillor Clive Palmer (Southcott ward) told the LBO: "We want to push forward with getting something moving on South Side; it's a critical development for Leighton-Linslade and one which will further invigorate the centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The consultants [Steven George and Partners] are looking at possible configurations and plans to try and give some indication, in their view, of what might be possible. We are hoping for a vibrant development that will give life to the town and satisfy the needs of the residents."

Land South of High Street, Leighton BuzzardLand South of High Street, Leighton Buzzard
Land South of High Street, Leighton Buzzard

There has been much interest in the future of the brownfield site, including from the Peppercorn Centre, a charitable company working on plans for a new arts and heritage centre it wishes to establish there.

Meanwhile, Councillor Palmer said that the council doesn't want to see the site "overwhelmed" by residential development, with other potential ideas including community meeting, start-up and hot desking spaces, a cafe, or facilities for young people, such as a cinema.

However, it was revealed last year that there were certain historical rules (covenants) attached to Land South of the High Street, which may prevent the use of the area for cinemas, theatres or “other place of amusement whatsoever”. The majority landowner, Central Bedfordshire Council, said that it would fall to developers to understake "legal investigations" into the restrictions, as it would cost CBC taxpayer's money to do so.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On the importance of working with CBC, Cllr Palmer said: "We need to get the major players together, particularly Central Bedfordshire Council, as they have had consultants looking thoroughly at aspects of that site. There has been a social needs study, and we would like to see the results of that.

"We need to arrange a meeting with Central Bedfordshire Council, the Peppercorn Centre, and other landowners on South Side to try and get things moving forward the best we can."

He added that the financial aspects of the site need to be looked into - "what is going to be possible?" - citing potential sources as commercial development companies, Central Bedfordshire Council, grants, and contributions resulting from residential properties built on the land.

"But bear in mind it’s a brownfield site, and developer contributions might be less than if it were a greenfield," explained Cllr Palmer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At its meeting on January 9, the South Side working party agreed to write to Central Bedfordshire Council requesting a meeting date "as soon as possible" to discuss land south of the High Street further. It also requested that CBC shared its "evidence gathering surveys" with the town council.

Central Bedfordshire Council has been contacted for a comment.