Sam Caldbeck, Central Bedfordshire Council, informed the group that Stephen Mooring had now moved on and had been replaced by Ingrid Hooley as Head of the Place Delivery Team. He advised members that, as previously reported, a four step process was in place which included an internal service review, commercial market review, consultation with the various landowners and at the end of this the production of an report setting out options for progressing a development, should this be considered feasible. Commerical advisers have been appointed to support the Council in this work.
Sam Caldbeck confirmed that should development proceed, it could do so in phases with the closest areas to the High Street being focussed on first. This would include the Mayfair 500 development and various portions of land owned by the Council which aside from providing temporary parking to market traders, are not in active use. The group agreed that a multi-purpose facility, which may include creative arts or business facilities, should be looked at as a priority, in terms of helping to diversify and support the town centre economy. Concerns were raised regarding the piecemeal development of the area, however, members were assured that as any development in the southside area would be guided by the sites development brief, a phased approach as opposed to piecemeal or unco-ordinated development would be taken. The vision for the whole area would be adhered to but development would happen in phases.
A request was made for the Development Brief of 2017 to be shared with members of the group and any additions or deletions to this Brief could be noted to give more clarity to the group of the processes to be followed. Areas on the Brief included development of a day centre, relocation of care home, provision of extra car parking and the provision of a multi-functional community facility. Sam Caldbeck advised that the brief could be provided to members, however, as this document was not adopted at the time it was produced, it must be treated as confidential to avoid any confusion.
A request was made to view, virtually, an established community/multi purpose facility to give members ideas of running costs and how it was organised to the maximum benefit of residents and local businesses/organisations. The Rufus Centre in Flitwick was mentioned as a possible virtual visit or the Chippenham Town Council Arts Facility.
A question was raised as to indicative timescales for the development, however Sam Caldbeck informed members at the present time this would not be advisable or possible. The initial piece of work with Cornerstone needed to be completed first and more details could then be known regarding the day centre, care home consultation and discussions with landowners and how the process could develop.
1. Date of next meeting - 15 February, 2021 at 10.00 am.
2. Provision and circulation of 2016 Development Brief and any updates to this listed for members clarification.
3. Virtual session included with either Flitwick or Chippenham.
4. By April – a session with Consultants and an actual visit to a facility to have a hands-on view (restrictions permitting).
5. Sam Caldbeck to invite Ingrid Hooley to the next meeting on 15 Feburary 2021.