Leighton Buzzard’s Christmas tree will be moving to the bottom of the High Street, as plans are underway to create a ‘gateway feature’ with the Greensand walk and cycle routes.
The circle area in the pavement at the bottom end of the High Street is being given “more purpose”. Two projects are underway, and residents may start to see initial preparatory activity happening.
Unlike the top end of the street, with its historic Market Cross and surrounding buildings, Leighton-Linslade Town Council feels that the bottom end of town “lacks the impact of a ‘gateway’ feature” to welcome and encourage visitors to explore the offer of the High Street.
As Autumn has arrived already, work has started to create a new ground fixing in the centre of the circle strong enough to hold the town’s Christmas tree.
Over the last few years, the tree has had to sit above ground in the old position near the Market Cross, as the ground hole has proven problematic. This meant that the council has been limited in the type and size of tree it can site here.
A Leighton Linslade Town Council spokesman, said: “The new ground hole will allow the purchase of a tree that is more fitting for the size and beauty of the town. The new location will free up the space and access for market traders in the area.
“This location requires the removal of the existing maidenhair tree (ginkgo biloba). The original donor of the tree, Cllr. Steve Owen has consented to its removal knowing that a replacement tree will be planted in one of the town’s parks this winter.”
Leighton-Linslade Town Council, The Greensand Trust, and SUSTRANS are also working together on a project that will bring the Greensand Ridge Walk and Greensand Cycleway right into the town centre.
Currently, both start in the vicinity of Tesco’s car park, meaning that walkers and cyclists don’t necessarily get to see the best of the town, and local businesses including shops and cafes miss out on potential trade.
A new ‘gateway’ feature will be created in conjunction with a community artist and possibly a local school to mark the start of both routes (or the finish – a similar feature is to be created at the other end of the routes in Gamlingay).
The Town Council says the feature will be “a great place for meeting to set off or celebrating the completion of the routes”.
The project is funded through Central Bedfordshire Planning Obligations and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership.
Jon Balaam, Director of The Greensand Trust said: “It is a tradition for walkers or cyclists starting, or finishing, their journey to take a photograph as a souvenir and to post it on social media. The gateway feature will provide that unique backdrop and bring people into the heart of the town promoting Greensand Country the High Street and The Greensand Ridge.”