Plans for transport hub at Flitwick Railway Station get the green light
Councillors unanimously approved the redevelopment of the site
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 long-awaited project at Flitwick Railway Station has been approved by Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee.
The site straddles Steppingley Road and includes the current station entrance, a small council-owned car park and a commercial unit, as well as the access to the Tesco supermarket.
The local authority's own plans involve demolishing a hot food takeaway and revised use of the land to provide a bus interchange.
This will consist of three bus stops and bus shelters, a new drop-off/pick up lay-by and a rearranged parking layout for vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles, according to a report to the committee.
The development also includes changes to the vehicle and pedestrian access to the station and the Tesco supermarket, with landscaping, said the report.
"The proposals are considered to result in significant improvements to the appearance and accessibility of the railway station and its wider town centre location."
There are about 540 car parking spaces directly serving the train station, added the report.
"While some parking spaces will be lost, the development promotes sustainable modes of transport, which weighs in favour of the application.
"The business operating from the retail unit (Best Kebab) is to be relocated to the premises in nearby Franklin House previously occupied by Pizza Paradise."
Conservative Flitwick councillor Neil Bunyan and ward colleague Charles Gomm think the development "will significantly enhance the station forecourt area and give a good first impression to visitors".
"The whole bus interchange will have the positive effect of removing buses from the High Street and relieve the current pinch point outside the Post Office, allowing the traffic to flow more freely," said councillor Bunyan.
"We welcome this as a well thought out, and importantly, sustainable and affordable project to improve our town."
Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey agreed, saying: "Given that this has been a poor visual aspect and a blot on Flitwick for many years, I really look forward to the council investing here.
It's an absolutely excellent project and I thoroughly endorse it, albeit I raised the loss of the 69 parking spaces with officers.
"But we've had an explanation forthcoming about those."
Councillor Bunyan also raised the issue of CCTV security around motorcycles and bikes, explaining these places "tend to be meeting places for the criminal fraternity".
Planning officer Stuart Kemp replied: "This issue over fear of crime was raised by Bedfordshire Police, as the only objector to the application.
"A condition is to be attached asking for location coverage of the CCTV cameras proposed."
Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "I'm really supportive of this scheme. It looks excellent."
She called for promotion of the bus routes, so people can easily see where the services go and by using them save money from parking charges.
Councillors unanimously approved the redevelopment of the site.