Objections raised over plans to redevelop Halfords site in Leighton Buzzard

Pressure group concerned about size of planned redevelopment of historic retail premises
Halfords site in Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google MapsHalfords site in Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google Maps
Halfords site in Leighton Buzzard. Picture: Google Maps

An objection is being lodged by a local pressure group to the size of a redevelopment of a Grade II listed retail outlet in Leighton Buzzard.

Applicant Sheffield-based Ranmoor Estates Limited wants to build seven houses and two apartments with a car park at 44 to 54 North Street.

Its plans for an alternative commercial use and the housing would replace retailer Halfords Group PLC’s store in the town.

But the Leighton Buzzard Society said: “The dense massing and size of the proposed development would be detrimental to the amenity of surrounding residential properties.”

Its concerns include “the loss of the operating commercial premises with unclear, if any, benefits from the proposed replacement units for which no parking or delivery facilities appear to have been provided”. It suggests these “would clearly be necessary” for such uses as a café or shop.

Other issues are “the need for any development to conform to Central Bedfordshire Council residential parking standards, which the present proposals appear not to do”.

It explained: “In the centre of Leighton-Linslade, it’s to be expected residents would have a normal car ownership ratio, while there’s a lack of adequate green and outside communal space for the occupiers. This could be seen as representing an overdevelopment of the site.”

The society added: “We’re committed to supporting the development of the Leighton-Linslade town centre to improve its appearance and functionality to the benefit of residents and visitors.

“Before any potential development of the site is granted CBC should be satisfied the project is totally in conformity with the character of the conservation area here and wouldn’t represent an overbearing imposition.

“The local authority should be certain that a proper and adequate plan is proposed and implemented for archaeological investigation of this site in the core of the historic settlement.

“And CBC should be sure there’ll be no detrimental future impact on the operation of nearby businesses as a result of any new residential development, especially arising from normal noise and odour issues.”

There would be one two-bedroom, four three-bed and two four bedroom houses, with two two-bed flats, parking, landscaping and bicycle storage, according to the planning application.

A single storey extension would be demolished, while the commercial unit on the ground floor would be converted into two new business premises covering 1,949sqm.

The project provides “two high quality commercial units and nine much-needed new homes”, said a planning design, access and heritage statement from JR Planning on behalf of the applicant.

It would “improve the character and significance of the listed building within the site and the conservation area in which it lies”.

These plans “secure removal of a large proportion of the modern additions, helping boost the appearance of the listed building”.

The planning and development consultancy added: “This offers a high-quality redevelopment which respects and reflects the key characteristics of the Leighton Buzzard conservation area.

“It would breathe new life into this site and represent a significant benefit for town centre vitality.”