Dunstable Former Library Site To Be Developed for Social Housing

This report by Cllr John Gurney, Independent Dunstable Town Councillor for Icknield Ward.
To contact John: email


It was announced at the Dunstable Joint Committee on Thursday 9 January there will be new social housing, in the form of up to 44 apartments, built on the site of the former library at Vernon Place.

Nick Costin, representing HRA Housing Projects told the public meeting held at Watling House, Dunstable (the former South Beds District Council building), that Dunstable has the highest need for housing for the whole of Central Bedfordshire. He confirmed two sites have been chosen in Dunstable Town Centre to provide social housing.

Carole Hegley, CBC Councillor for Central Ward and Chairperson of the Joint Committee, which comprises 5 Dunstable CBC, and 5 Dunstable Town Councillors, said that money from renting the housing that Central Bedfordshire Council owns will make a considerable contribution towards the costs of building these new Council properties.


1. Court Drive - Behind Go Bowling

Mr Costin's first announcement was for housing on the area of land that extends behind from the artificial football pitches at the back of Go Bowling on Court Drive, to the Dog Kennel Down footpath. The Outline plan is for up to 100 apartments to be built in 3 blocks with at least 70 one-bedroom and 28 two-bedroom. Fears of local residents about the loss of playing areas were alleviated with the announcement that "Planning requires at least one-third of the site to remain open space."

Mr Costin said a public engagement event will be held no earlier than 28 February, and possibly later. Construction is due to start at the end of 2020, be completed by the end 2022.

This Housing scheme is related to the new Health Hub which will be built where the full-size artificial football pitch is.

2. Vernon Place - former library site

Perhaps the more ambitious announcement was for the Council housing development on the former library site. This housing will be aimed at specific types of people, due in a large part to the restrictions of the site with no parking available. (The concept of underground parking having not yet reached Central Beds Council in this 21st century!)

Residents for the 1 and 2 person (note the accommodation is specified by the number of people not bedrooms), will be selected according to their social needs. The housing will NOT be an Older Persons Scheme (OPS), and everyone who is offered a dwelling will have to confirm they do not own a car.

At least 10 of the apartments will be for people with learning and/or physical disabilities. The building will be a maximum of 4 storeys high.

Central Bedfordshire Council will retain ownership of the site and rent the properties out on an affordable rent scheme. They are looking for planning to be submitted by the end of this Summer.

New Health Hub set to go ahead

There was an announcement about the long-planned Health Hub, although the presentation simply showed a grey H block in front of the proposed new housing and didn't answer any of the questions covering transport such as the nearest bus stops, parking and the cost of it, and other infrastructure. The building will be no higher than 4 storeys, in line with the proposed new build behind it. The presenter did say all Planning issues will be addressed at a public engagement in February!

Apparently, only three of the 5 G.P. surgeries that originally agreed to close in order to form the new Health Hub, will in fact cease, with the other two opting out, although the presenter wasn't sure which ones these were.

The meeting was assured however, that the Health Hub will provide services for the whole of the population of Dunstable, and Doctors may refer patients here.

Dunstable Mayor opposes all building schemes

Cllr Sid Abbott, the current Town Mayor, read a statement related to the planning and air quality management of these proposed developments saying "unless CBC can eradicate or mitigate the expected high levels of nitrous oxide emission the development is deeply flawed."  His statement was greeted with an impromptu ripple of applause from the residents who attended the meeting.

Other announcements were made about the ongoing regeneration of Dunstable Town centre crossroads by Central Bedfordshire Council, and Dunstable Town Council's 4-year programme for improving old buildings in Middle Row and the Town Centre, such as Priory House, the former Tilley's the butcher (Pizza Roma) and Moore's.

At the beginning of the meeting, we heard a series of questions and prepared statements from local residents on issues of HGV traffic* on Luton Road and driving through Dunstable Town centre; the Market Cross corner constantly being damaged by HGVs; White Line Markings fading out too quickly; cars driving on the wrong side of Katherine Drive; Concerns about the new Health Hub.

This report is from notes I took during the meeting, although the full minutes should be published on the Central Beds Council website within a month. Cllr John Gurney.♦

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Dunstable News Desk has received confirmation from Central Bedfordshire Council that it is the responsibility of the police to prosecute HGV’s for contravening the weight restrictions that apply in Dunstable. Anyone who sees an HGV in a restricted area can report it to CBC by emailing CBC will then investigate to see if the HGV was supposed to be in the area, and if not they will write to the company to educate them on the rules and restrictions in place.


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