Travelodge plans for new hotel in Leighton Buzzard submitted to council - and its UK director is confident that there's demand

Target date for a decision is June 14
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A controversial planning application for a Travelodge in Leighton Buzzard has officially been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC).

If approved, the proposals would see the demolition of a disused sorting office and industrial sheds to make way for a three-storey hotel on land to the rear of the Post Office, Church Square. The developers, Burney Group, ran a consultation in January, predicting that it could bring "£1.8m of investment annually" to the town, as well as creating new jobs.

But the need for a hotel and its benefit to the local economy has been questioned, with chairman of LB First, Gennaro Borrelli, claiming the £1.8m target was "not realistic in the current economic climate", while concerns were also raised about construction noise and machinery, parking availability, and the potential for complaints about noise from nearby pubs.

A CGI of the Leighton Buzzard site for the Travelodge.A CGI of the Leighton Buzzard site for the Travelodge.
A CGI of the Leighton Buzzard site for the Travelodge.

There were also worries that the plans could be "a Trojan Horse" for flats – "Travelodge could decide at the eleventh hour that it's no longer a viable option for them and pull out," said Mr Borrelli.

The application includes a letter from Tony O’Brien, UK development director, to Burney Capital Partners. It states: "I confirm that development of a new Travelodge on your site is an Investment Board-approved scheme and forms part of Travelodge’s development programme for hotel openings in late 2024. This requires a planning permission to be obtained in the next six months. The board approval is for a Travelodge hotel with 75 bedrooms."

He states the hotel need should be "straightforward", as Leighton Buzzard has "just the two small hotels" – the 38-bedroom Swan Hotel and the five-bedroom White Horse Pub B&B at its centre.

He continued: "The town population is projected to grow to over 50,000 within the next five years. There are currently no branded budget hotels serving this market.

"The principal demand drivers are as follows: friends and family visiting the growing population; business customers visiting commercial businesses; leisure customers using the attractive town centre as a base for visits to the surrounding area, including Woburn, Whipsnade and The Chiltern Hills."

20 parking spaces are proposed for the site – with approximately two spaces retained for use of the Post Office. The application states that there would be "adequate blue badge parking" as well as "suitable provision" for electric vehicle charging bays.

Meanwhile, the proposed access from Church Square would be retained.

The application adds: "Slight alterations to the existing dropped kerb is required for larger vehicle access – however as this site is part of a larger redevelopment, this entrance will likely need to be adapted to ensure its suitable as the new primary street [referencing plans to transform Land South of High Street]."

With reference to Land South, Mr Borrelli previously told the LBO: "We are certainly not anti-Travelodge; we would simply like to see that the right kind of development benefit residents.

"I know The Peppercorn Centre has been pushing CBC to develop some of the land as an arts, culture and heritage centre. If something like that could be considered by the council, it could boost the economic claim for the hotel to be there."

The target date for a decision is June 14.