Agenda and draft minutes

South Side Task and Finish Group - Monday, 26th July, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, The White House, Hockliffe Street, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 1HD (It may be possible to join this meeting virtually upon request; please contact the Council).

Contact: Committee Officer  Email: or tel 01525 631920

No. Item



Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972 requires a record be kept of the Members present and that this record form part of the minutes of the meeting. Members who cannot attend a meeting should tender apologies to the Town Clerk.



Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Spurr (substituted by Councillor Perham) and Councillor Hemmings (substituted by Councillor Jones).


Councillor Morris was joining remotely due to self-isolation and therefore was not legally present as a voting committee member (LGA 1972).




(i)         Under the Localism Act 2011 (sections 26-37 and Schedule 4) and in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct, Members are required to declare any interests which are not currently entered in the Member’s Register of Interests or if he/she has not notified the Monitoring Officer of it.

(ii)        Should any Member have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in an item on the agenda, the Member may not participate in consideration of that item unless a Dispensation has first been requested (in writing) and granted by the Council (see Dispensation Procedure).


Councillor Palmer declared a personal interest as a member of the LB Society and the Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeological and Historical Society.  Councillor Harvey declared a personal interest as a member of the LB Society and South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth.




To receive questions and statements from members of the public in respect of any item of business included in the agenda, as provided for in Standing Order No.s 3(f) and 3(g).


Text Box: Members of the public may attend the meeting to ask questions or make statements but are asked to note that attendance numbers are limited. Please contact us to advise if you wish to attend by 4pm on Friday, 23 July. Written representations may also be submitted before 4pm on 23 July.


There were no questions from the public.



(a)       To receive and approve as a correct record the minutes of the South Side Task and Finish Group meeting held on 6 May 2021 (attached) in accordance with Standing Order 12.


(b)       To receive information updates on matters arising from the previous meeting (if appropriate).


(a)          The group received the draft minutes of the South Side Task & Finish Group held on the 6 May 2021.


Minute reference 29/SS (a): it was agreed to replace the third paragraph with the wording: “Members agreed that this paper provided an excellent starting point into which sound options and solutions would need to be grafted. Timescales were uncertain”.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the South Side Task & Finish Group held on 6 May 2021 be approved as a correct record, subject to the amendment above, and were signed accordingly.


(b)          Minute reference 28/SS Venue Examples – it was clarified that an email had been received from Rechelle Dua regarding the Leighton Library and Theatre Facility.  Central Bedfordshire officers would be meeting with community groups to better understand their needs and to clarify any queries.




The Task & Finish Group may consider it appropriate to consider the following resolution should they consider that any discussion would be prejudicial to the public interest: that, under the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act 1960, the public be excluded on the grounds of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information.  The public and press to withdraw from the meeting during consideration of detailed discussion regarding:


RESOLVED that, under the Public Bodies (Admissions to Meetings) Act 1960, the public be excluded on the grounds of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information.  The public and press to withdraw from the meeting during consideration of detailed discussion regarding: Central Bedfordshire Council Research Findings.





To receive and consider the findings form CBC’s commissioned research pertaining to land south of the High Street.


The Group received a verbal update from Sam Caldbeck of Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) regarding the commissioned research pertaining to Land South of the High Street.   Two consultants had been commissioned as they had different areas of specialism. The work had looked at a range of potential options for the land in the ownership of CBC (and potential options in terms of third party landowners for adjacent premises). The purpose of the study was to better understand the current development market and the development potential for the site.


Scenarios considered in the commissioned research included mixed uses with a leisure led development (e.g. gym, bowling) or a cinema led development. The study concluded that likely residual land values for a leisure or cinema led mixed use development indicated that neither was currently a viable option, largely due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A residential led development might offer greater financial viability but would not be appropriate for a town centre redevelopment site.


This situation was reflected across the country with market conditions seriously impacted by the pandemic.



It was hoped that market conditions would improve over time and that a development of some kind would become feasible in the future, but timescales were unknown. Whilst fully recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Members received with dismay the prospect of a further substantial delay in making progress with development on land south of the High Street. It was suggested that the intervening period, possibly a number of years, could be used to continue discussions with the community about options for the site and to look to progress access to/from the site from the High Street.


Officers were thanked for their presentation.





To review documentation created through the Group’s discussions and consider amendments and next stages for developing work.  


The Task and Finish Group received a report prepared by Councillor S Owen with comment added by others, in respect of potential redevelopment uses of the site and possible next steps.


Following the presentation on research findings, it was suggested that a phased approach to the site might be possible rather than looking at the entire site. Members and officers raised the possibility of an initial community-led facility to spark the overall redevelopment. 


It was suggested that the potential for a community arts centre could be further explored with appropriate community groups and that the town council seriously consider bringing to the attention of the appropriate authorities the possible inclusion of a police hub facility and/or a health hub facility as part of the development. Other potential ideas included a civic led facility with provision for council offices and possibly with a heritage element. It was recognised that financial planning would be an important dimension of any such initiative.


In order to proceed further it was suggested that recommendations needed to be put forward to both the Partnership Committee and also to the Policy and Finance Committee (given potential implications of further research on town council resources, staff, budgets and other current projects).


RESOLVED to develop reports with specific recommendations to go forward to the Partnership Committee and the Policy and Finance Committee for consideration.





To consider a date for the next meeting.


No date was set as the future of the Task and Finish Group was yet to be determined, as it had now run for the initial six month duration.