To receive information from the consultants appointed to undertake an indicative Masterplanning exercise on land south of the High Street.
Stuart Hancox from Steven George & Partners gave an update on the masterplanning exercise on Land South of the High Street to date. It was previously agreed at the meeting of Policy and Finance held on 25th July 2022 that a number of options were to be prepared by the consultant for consideration by the Working Party. The first option presented to this meeting was a mixed use residential and commercial scheme including an east-west spine road, car parking, pedestrian access and public spaces. The powerpoint presentation would be forwarded to the Town Clerk to distribute to members of the group.
Discussion thereafter took place around uses to be included in further master plan options as agreed at previous working party meetings. The importance of a community use led masterplan to include leisure, cultural, arts, civic and possibly Health and Police functions (for example, by taking into account the Peppercorn Group’s feasibility study) remained a primary objective for the working party which the master planner confirmed would be reflected in future options. A further question was raised around the future of the High Street and would the new spine road within land South of the High Street be wide enough for buses and delivery vehicles to use.
Concerns were raised regarding the number of suggested residential properties although it was understood there needed to be a balance to be able to cover costs of development and to aim to produce a favourable viability forecast via for example the Residual Land Value index. There was also a need to update the Plans to include the community spaces referred to above.
The option presented was primarily based on the Central Bedfordshire 2012 development brief for the site. The Plans would be revised by the consultant and re-presented. It was agreed to provide the consultant with further information on recent discussions about potential uses for the site as well as providing indicative space requirements. In the interests of expediting matters, this further information could be relayed by email rather than an additional meeting taking place.
The Group was advised that following a review of Land Registry land ownership, a number of restrictive covenants and rights of access were in place across the site and these would need further consideration. For example, an existing electricity substation might need to be relocated within the site. It was recognised that complications of this sort were bound to be met in such a town centre redevelopment.
Following the recent resolution made by Council on 10 October 2022 in respect of the future of the High Street (Mintue reference 369), the potential to expand the current brief to include the High Street was discussed and could be explored further.
Members agreed the masterplan was an excellent starting point which could now be revised and formulated into a plan which included all relevant needs of the community. Mr Hancox was thanked for his presentation and work to date on the scheme.
RESOLVED to note the information and to provide further detail to the masterplanning consultants to help inform additional proposals for land south of the High Street, to be presented as soon as possible.