Long-awaited transport interchange for Flitwick could be completed by the end of the year
And step free access could follow by 2024
Work could start shortly on a long-awaited transport interchange for Flitwick and be completed by the end of the year, a meeting heard.
What was previously labelled a "blot on Flitwick" for many years will be removed with the redevelopment of land next to the railway station to provide a transport hub.
The project was initially approved in October, but revised full plans were submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council s development management committee.
The site includes the current station entrance, a small council-owned car park and a commercial unit, as well as the access to the Tesco supermarket.
Applicant CBC made several adjustments to its original proposals, which were unanimously agreed by councillors.
Planning officer Stuart Kemp told the committee the site straddles Steppingley Road.
A bus interchange with three bus stops and shelters, a new drop-off/pick up area and rearranged access to the station and Tesco car park form part of the scheme, he said.
The amendments involve a change to the layout of a car park, the relocation of bus stops and moving an exit from the Tesco supermarket slightly further up Steppingley Road.
Conservative Flitwick councillor Charles Gomm said: "The interchange and remodelling of the station approach will make a significant improvement to the town centre area.
"Buses currently using stops located in the High Street frequently cause traffic congestion back across the railway bridge, which will be eliminated.
"There's an opportunity for bus services operated by Grant Palmer and Stagecoach to be timed to meet key train services.
"The scheme will be followed by a Network Rail project for step free access to the station, hopefully by 2024.
"This is an ideal chance to be presented with a more accessible station frontage, which has become run down over the years."
Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey agreed with his ward colleagues, saying briefings about the scheme meant alot of their concerns were "ironed out" in advance.
"The only real issue is the loss of car parking spaces," he explained. "It relies on areas outside our control allowing for sustainable growth.
"It's a valuable development for Flitwick and will benefit the community at large."
A hot food takeaway premises will be demolished as part of the scheme, as it has relocated nearby.
Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young said: "It will significantly improve the centre of Flitwick.
"I hope the council goes on to the second phase with the revamp of shops by Franklin House. This is certainly a great first step."
Conservative Ampthill councillor Mike Blair offered his support from a neighbouring ward perspective.
"Alot of Ampthill residents normally use the station as a regular commute," he said.
"I hope the companies tie in the bus scheduling with the arrival of trains."
Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey described it as "a fantastic design because it's such a small area" and "amazing the way the changes have been fitted in".
Flitwick Town Council backed the application, but asked that an exit from Tesco close to Kendall Drive is reviewed because of pedestrian safety fears.