Residents have been left upset as they claim Leighton Buzzard High Street has been left “a mess” and covered in black asphalt... but it appears the complainants may have jumped the gun.
Central Bedfordshire Council is currently undertaking its Street Print scheme, meaning footways and parking spaces in the town centre are being dug up and repaired as part of maintenance plans.
Its highways team is carrying out a trial of a material called Street Print, which involves laying black asphalt, before imprint and colouring works are carried out to make the surface blend in with the rest of the high street.
However, several residents have written to the LBO – and many more have taken to social media – to complain about the black asphalt. It appears that many people are unaware of the upcoming imprint and colouring works, believing the high street will be left with huge black patches.
One resident told the newspaper: “A contractor working for CBC was ripping out the brickwork on the pavement and adjacent road surface outside of Wilko. This was then replaced by a slick of tarmac completely out of character and at odds with the surrounding brick surface.
“The same contractor appears to have done a similar job on the parking area on the other side of the road near Boots. How have they been allowed to get away with this?
“There is also a partially finished section near the bus pull-in outside Halifax, and near the parking spaces in Church Square. These areas also look rather slapdash around the edges in places.”
Another reader claimed: “The block paving (on the south side near Wilko) has been replaced by a large area of asphalt.
“This is unsightly to say the least. Who was in charge of this and what has happened to all the blocks which were taken up?
“The work has damaged rather than repaired the High Street. One has to hope that the remaining areas of work conclude with the block paving being relaid and not replaced with yet more asphalt.”
But CBC wishes to reiterate that the black asphalt is not the final look, and that work will be taking place to colour the asphalt.
The CBC highways team wrote on its Facebook page: “Street Print is a decorative system designed to imprint patterns and colour into asphalt. The process allows a new surface to blend into the surrounding environment and produce realistic alternatives to traditional block, slate and stone effects.
“Using this material will save money as well as ensuring that future maintenance is easier and more efficient.”
The LBO asked CBC whether it knew that many residents were confused about the Street Print works.
A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman said: “The council isn’t aware that residents are confused. Our team has been down there talking to residents, who seemed interested and were taking photos and asking questions. People seemed to think it was good.
“We have also had lots of positive comments on social media about it.”
CBC also informed the LBO that the work - including the imprint and colouring - should be completed by the middle of this week or Friday (weather dependent).
There was also some confusion amongst residents about whether the block paving bricks had been removed or whether the asphalt had just been added on top of them.
The spokeswoman confirmed that the bricks had been taken out.