Proposals to extend the Luton-Dunstable busway into Leighton Buzzard have drawn approval from the town’s MP.
In a report commissioned by the National Infrastructure Commission, architects 5th Studio Ltd outline plans for three east-west “stitches” comprised of busways.
These would include an Aylesbury-Leighton Buzzard-Dunstable-Luton busway, as well as two other routes linking Milton Keynes across North Bedfordshire to Sandy, and Daventry through Northampton to Rushden.
The three “stitches” would be an integral part of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor – a major economic area designated for an expansion of up to 1.9 million new homes by 2050.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous said: “I’m in support of anything which boosts our facilities and helps with access in and out of Leighton Buzzard.
“Initially, I was sceptical of the busway when it was first proposed for Luton and Dunstable but having seen its benefits, I would support its expansion.”
5th Studio’s report stated the extension would occur by “completing an extension of the successful Dunstable to Luton busway to Leighton Buzzard, and potentially on from there via Cheddington to Aylesbury.”
It added: “This would provide an armature for development connected by high-quality public transport to the economic centres of Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Luton.
“Consideration could also be given to extending the definition of this stitch eastwards to connect to the East Coast Mainline at Hitchin.”
According to the report, the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor encompasses a line of towns and cities some 50 miles out from London, each with an unusually productive economy.
The corridor includes the world-class universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as nine of the UK’s top 100 high growth tech firms.
5th Studio’s report is to be submitted to the National Infrastructure Commission for their consideration, with their recommendations to be passed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The report makes no definitive recommendation as to how the housing expansion will be achieved, despite exploring several housing growth scenarios. A proposal for a large city between Milton Keynes and Bicester was described as the most challenging option in terms of economic growth.
Cllr Nigel Young, Central Beds Council Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “We are committed to realising the economic potential and sustainable growth of our area, so we would certainly welcome the possibility of extending the route of the Luton-Dunstable Busway into Leighton Buzzard.
“This has long been one of our longer terms ambitions and, while the NIC report only represents a series of possibilities at this stage, it does highlight what a success the busway has been for our communities and the area. We have already delivered spectacular levels of economic growth in Central Bedfordshire, so expanding the busway’s potential would further boost this and help make the Leighton Buzzard, the surrounding areas even greater places to live and work.”