‘Town is already at capacity’ says pub about plans to build 20 flats in Leighton Buzzard south side

Mayfair 500's proposed flats on Land South of High Street
Mayfair 500's proposed flats on Land South of High Street

Plans to build 20 flats in Leighton Buzzard town centre will be opposed by a neighbouring historic pub following a public exhibition last week.

On Wednesday, December 5, the Golden Bell in Church Square hosted the exhibition of developer Mayfair 500’s plans to build 20 flats to the rear of the neighbouring Post Office building.

Although it allowed its venue to be used for the exhibition, the Golden Bell had already announced online its intention to oppose the development.

Landlady Lisa Drew told the LBO: “The exhibition was very well attended.

“Lots of local people and businesses are very unhappy about the residential aspect of this development and there was a degree of anger.

“Most people would rather it was used for facilities or commercial purposes, perhaps a doctor’s surgery, or parking or more retail – all of the things which the town centre desperately needs.

“The feedback forms [provided by Mayfair 500] were not fit for purpose. They were gathering feedback on what people specifically thought of the development plans, rather than what they wanted overall.”

One of the arguments used against the plans has been the impact on the proposed Land South of High Street scheme. Last week, LB First chairman Gennaro Borelli told the LBO that a residential development could harm the commercial potential of the site.

Mrs Drew added: “We’re fully in support of developing the land. I would welcome the competition from other restaurants and pubs.

“If it’s used residentially, none of those people are going to be able to make doctor’s appointments or find school places, as we’re already at capacity.

“And it backs on to two historic pubs [The Golden Bell and the Black Lion], both of which will be jeopardised.”

A spokesman on behalf of Mayfair 500 said: “We were really pleased with the high turnout at last week’s consultation event. It was great to have the opportunity to speak to the local community, answer their questions, and hear their views.

“We are still in the process of receiving and reviewing feedback, which helps us evolve the plans before submitting an application in the new year as planned.

“The site has long been earmarked for development and was part of a disposal of sites for re-development by the former owners.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the local authority to provide a scheme that realises the site’s potential and kickstarts the longed-for regeneration of the wider land to the south of the High Street.”

A CBC admission that the long-awaited South Side development is no longer a “priority project” was met with dismay in October.

In an email to Cllr Roy Johnstone, regeneration officer Stephen Mooring wrote: “It is important to stress that currently the Land South of the High Street does not feature in the list of priority projects for the council...

“So in the near term resource is focused on the delivery of other projects.”