CBC And Legacy - Kingsland Options Still Being Explored

By Alan D Winter 6/6/2017 13:27pm

Central Bedfordshire Council are ​still exploring, with Legacy, options for both the Kingsland site but also other areas of Houghton Regis, too.

What's Happened So Far?

In March 2016 the Central Bedfordshire Council Leader Cllr James Jamieson, Rio Ferdinand and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP met at the MIPIM conference (a 4-day real estate exhibition, conference and networking event gathering 24000 international property professionals). They announced a 6 month exclusivity period where they would work up proposals for the Kingsland Legacy scheme.

After the 6 month period ended, the Legacy team explained their plans to the media.

On the BBC website in October 2016 it stated, "They will start work building 1,300 homes just outside Luton in 2017 at a cost of £400m in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and Aviva Investors. The players' current project will see 1,300 homes built in one of the most deprived areas of the UK in Houghton Regis, near Luton, with 600 properties currently designated for social and affordable housing." More announcements are listed here.

Where is Kingsland?

The Kingsland site is 22-hectare site between Sundon Road and Parkside Drive in Houghton Regis. 250 years ago an estate map of Houghton Regis potentially showed this area as a green space known as North Mead and Fools Furlong.

1762 Survey Map - Kingsland was shown as a green space known as North Mead, and Fools Furlong.
The map is held at the Bedford Public Records Office.

What's On The Site Now?

Today, about 50% of the site is developed for educational and leisure use, while the other 50% remains an unused green open space. Download Kingsland map (pdf). Within the HRN1 scheme it is identified for development.

Currently based on this site are a University Technical College, Central Bedfordshire College, Houghton Regis Academy, Chiltern Special School, Academy of Central Bedfordshire, Priory Parkside, Kingfishers, (the council’s Adult Skills Service) and Houghton Regis Leisure Centre.
Houghton Regis Academy

Several privately owned bungalows are on the site

Entrance to Engineering Technical Centre

Entrance to the Chiltern School

Leisure Centre car parking

Leisure Centre.
A campaign by the community saved the centre from closure,
and reopened a refurbished swimming pool

Edge of woodland. Deer and other wildlife have been seen here.

Pylons run across the large untended field

Floodlights over an unused outdoor football centre (red-gra)

The field was once used for a cyclocross event in 2015

Construction skills centre of Central Bedfordshire College,

Unused floodlight area. Cleared of weeds by volunteers for community use, but so far unresolved.

Large field owned by Central Bedfordshire Council, designated as development site in HRN1 plans.

The Kingsland site has been identified by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Legacy for development and regeneration.

Legacy, led by major sports personalities such as Rio Ferdinand, say they want to do something for young people. In a statement on their website, they say, "Legacy will put the community at the heart of everything it does by providing affordable housing and community services for thousands of families across Britain." Legacy is a development company fronted by former England football captain Rio Ferdinand along with partners, West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble and Brighton & Hove Albion striker Bobby Zamora. Aviva Investors are backing the project in association with development partners.

It was hoped in March 2016 that the Government-supported pilot project would provide education, sports, leisure and community facilities, plus a mix of affordable, social, rented and privately owned homes at Kingsland. And the aspiration was to integrate it with the existing community as part of the aspiration to improve people’s lives.

The Department for Communities and Local Government wanted to support regeneration in areas of deprivation. So why did they select the Kingsland site?

According to gov.uk the Indices of Deprivation 2015 provide a set of relative measures of deprivation for small areas (Lower-layer Super Output Areas) across England, based on seven domains of deprivation. This includes Income Deprivation, Employment Deprivation, Education, Skills and Training Deprivation, Health Deprivation and Disability, Crime, Barriers to Housing and Services, Living Environment Deprivation. The 32,844 small areas in England are judged against these criteria and then classified into varying levels of overall deprivation. Decile 1 areas are the most deprived, and those in decile 10 are the least deprived nationally. Two Parkside areas and one Houghton Hall/Tithe Farm area fall into decile 2, and another Tithe Farm area falls into decile 3.

Central Bedfordshire Council in 2016 were exploring funding options to ensure their costs were recoverable and no additional burden would fall to Central Bedfordshire residents and taxpayers. Financial viability was being looked at in detail and supported through expert advice. Central Bedfordshire Council have always said they would only proceed with the project if the finances balanced.

If the Kingsland redevelopment does not happen, the Houghton Regis North 1 (HRN1) development already includes funding of £21million for regeneration of the site.

No decisions have been made at this stage.

Central Bedfordshire Council have said, "When we have some proposals to share, we will engage with the local community in the development of these."

Save The Leisure Centre Campaign

Campaigning to Save the Leisure Centre on  the Kingsland site in July 2011
2012 - Action Group Newsletter

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