Councillor 'pities the people' who'll end up living in newly-approved Leighton Buzzard flats

The site is a vacant piece of land to the west of Billington Road

Monday, 7th June 2021, 1:58 pm

A housing project for 27 two-bedroom flats in Leighton Buzzard has been approved, despite a local councillor saying she "pities the people who have to live there".

There are no reasons to refuse the application for land at Billington Road, according to Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey.

"But it's not a great place to live," she told Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee.

The site is a vacant piece of land to the west of Billington Road
The site is a vacant piece of land to the west of Billington Road

"You're stuck against a busy road, even with the screening, as well as the side of a McDonald's restaurant, you've got some warehouses nearby and it's quite a walk to any facilities," she said.

"We're not exactly building the great estates of the future. Unfortunately, it's very hard to refuse.

"I have to say I pity the people who'll live there. Our hands are tied, but it's not good development."

Applicant Grovebury Asset Management Limited withdrew the scheme originally, as there were several issues to be resolved.

It resubmitted full plans for the 27 flats on one acre of land bounded to the south by the A4146 Leighton Buzzard bypass.

The site is in a main employment area with the South Bedfordshire Green Belt on the opposite side of the road, said a report to the committee.

"Access would be taken from a road serving the gym, the drive-through restaurant and a petrol station, and its junction with Billington Road.

"There are 60 parking spaces, seven of which are for visitors."

Planning officer Peter Vosper said: "The site is a vacant piece of land to the west of Billington Road and in a mixed use area.

"The development consists of three three-storey blocks with nine flats proposed in each.

"There would be 18 market units, with the remaining nine as affordable housing. It would make use of an under-utilised site.

"The concern over the previous withdrawn application about the height of the buildings has been addressed, as have issues over noise from road traffic and industrial and commercial sources."

Leighton-Linslade Town Council had objected on highway safety grounds, the loss of employment land, the need for adequate noise mitigation, and potential flooding problems.

It also referred to a lack of clarity as to how Billington Road will be connected by an intended cycle and pedestrian route to a public footpath, which forms part of the Leighton-Linslade Green Wheel.

Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Ray Berry suggested the town council's objections appear to have been cleared up.

Councillor Harvey asked whether there was evidence of the site being marketed as employment land "because there are a lot of enquiries for this in Leighton Buzzard".

Mr Vosper replied: "The land hasn't been in employment use since the South Bedfordshire Local Plan was adopted in 2004. It's in a mixed use area of employment, residential, restaurants and a gym."

Conservative Ampthill councillor Mike Blair said: "It seems odd to be building this number of flats with no education contribution in the section 106 agreement.

"It looks as if it's assumed there won't be any children on the site."

Mr Vopser explained: "Education was consulted on the application. We didn't receive a response. A reply was chased and still nothing came back. This is also a matter the agent has raised to clarify no contribution is sought, so I can confirm that's the case."

Councillors granted planning permission, which includes a condition requiring precise details of the Green Wheel route through the area.