Housing plan for "appalling" former Jewson site in Dunstable

The site was previously a Jewson, pictured here in 2018. Picture: Google MapsThe site was previously a Jewson, pictured here in 2018. Picture: Google Maps
The site was previously a Jewson, pictured here in 2018. Picture: Google Maps
Three separate votes required before housing project on vacant site approved by planning committee

A site in Dunstable branded “appalling” by a local councillor is set to be redeveloped, after the project required three separate votes from a planning committee.

Applicant S Wilson submitted full plans to demolish storage units, and convert and extend an office building to accommodate 51 properties on the former Jewson site off Beale Street.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This involves the redevelopment of the former Jewson’s merchants yard, which was used to store building materials,” senior planning officer Tom Mead told Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.

“The site is currently vacant and cleared, except for an office block,” he said. “This application seeks to convert the office to residential units and construct a four-storey building and a part three- and part four-storey block.

“It benefits from an outline extant planning permission for the 51 units, so the principle of development has been deemed acceptable. The level of housing is appropriate for a high density urban area.”

Conservative Dunstable West councillor Nigel Young described the site as being “in an appalling condition” with “a derelict, horrible, collapsing building”, saying: “There could be no better alternative than to knock it down and start again.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s a crowded area of the town. Parking is always an issue. We’ve tried everything to fix that. There are too many vehicles and not enough room along those narrow roads.

“The viability is a dreadful shame and is protected in case law. It’s not the best development and not in the best place, but it’s a brownfield site and brownfield comes first.”

Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark explained: “We weigh up the benefit of redeveloping what’s a really horrible site, which will be of benefit to the neighbours, against the reduced contributions and parking. It could be sub-optimal. Or we have a horrible redundant site. It’s better to approve this project on balance.”

Independent Leighton Linslade North councillor Victoria Harvey labelled the layout “cramped”, warning. “There are concerns raised about the green infrastructure, with only a small amenity area for the flats. Also around the issue of urban heat. The tarmac will be roasting if there’s a heatwave.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Independent Flitwick councillor Heather Townsend said: “We’ve an eyesore here and it needs a solution. But is this the right answer? Will we be left with a bigger problem where we’ve units that don’t sell and in which people don’t want to live?” she asked.

Labour Dunstable North councillor Matthew Brennan voiced his objection in a statement referring to “inadequate site access and parking, and a lack of a traffic study”.

An initial proposal to approve the plans was defeated with four votes in favour, five against and one abstention.

A move for refusal on the grounds of the impact on infrastructure and the amenity of residents, a lack of sustainability and the urban heat issue was defeated, with four votes in favour, five against and one abstention.

Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey, who chairs the committee, suggested another approval vote, with five in favour, three against and two abstentions.