Town council voices unanimous opposition to potential plan to sell off part of Leighton Buzzard Land South for housing

The Land South site (council owned land in orange).The Land South site (council owned land in orange).
The Land South site (council owned land in orange).
An extraordinary meeting of the town council was held

Demands from residents for more services instead of extra homes in Leighton Buzzard town centre are shared by local councillors considering options for land south of the High Street.

There was unanimous support at an extraordinary town council meeting to oppose Central Bedfordshire Council’s intent to dispose of a segment of Duncombe Drive car park for housing.

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Future ambitions for the site are due to be reviewed by the local authority at a scrutiny committee next month (March 7) and by its executive on April 2.

The fear locally is that a portion of the allocated sites for regeneration would be sold off by CBC for residential development, with no guarantee the finance raised would be reinvested in the town.

As well as a plea for more local infrastructure, residents and traders are anxious about a potential loss of spaces at the nearby car park.

An extraordinary meeting of Leighton-Linslade Town Council was held at Astral Park Sports and Community Centre to consider its options on CBC’s proposals.

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A motion calling for a collaborative approach to the area was proposed by Liberal Democrat town councillor Russ Goodchild, who also represents Leighton Linslade West on CBC.

In a social media post, the majority Liberal Democrat group on the council said: “The town council unanimously backs opposition to CBC plans for Duncombe Drive car park and the land around it.

“This motion setting out the town’s opposition to proposals from CBC to sell an area of the land south of the High Street for housing received cross-party backing at an emergency town council meeting.

Residents across Leighton Buzzard have told your councillors enough properties have been built here without the services and infrastructure which need to accompany that.

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“Traders and residents are also concerned about the loss of the well-used Duncombe Drive car park to the town centre,” added the post on Facebook.

“With unanimous support from councillors from all parties on the council, the motion calls for the Independent-run CBC to work with the whole town to develop plans which benefit everyone.”

The motion acknowledged “CBC’s stated strategic aim to pursue the redevelopment of town centres and confirms LLTC’s view that the derelict land south of the High Street presents a once only strategic opportunity for redevelopment of that area”.

It highlighted the importance of “collaborative working on an equal footing with CBC on this project around strategic objectives and presents its aim for a comprehensive possibly phased south side redevelopment”.

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This would “occupy the whole of the available site for a mix of public services, commercial, cultural, leisure and housing uses”.

Independent Biggleswade West CBC councillor and portfolio holder for business, housing and assets Steve Watkins met local councillors in the area, earlier this year.

Following that meeting, Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Victoria Harvey posted on social media: “For the first time, there was real acknowledgement that far more facilities are needed in the town centre.

“We’re expecting a second meeting and joint working in the future.”