How to solve a problem like Dunstable?
A short film about the ‘masterplan’ future of Dunstable has been released by Central Beds Council, and I’m happy to say it’s refreshingly honest.
When the Gazette reported last month that the council was filming the £1,000 project, some cynical Dunstablians branded it a “waste of time and money”.
But they may be pleasantly surprised as Dunstable – A New Beginning is helpful, informative and paints an achievable picture of the town’s future.
It steers clear of patronising, head-in-the-sand-everything-is-rosy propaganda, instead honestly portraying the sense of despair felt by many of the town’s residents.
Popular gripes – such as “there’s not a lot to do” and “not a lot of shops” and “too much traffic” – are echoed through the video’s interactions with the man in the street.
Since the start of the Court Drive ‘Streetscape’ roadworks in the town centre, the Gazette has featured a number of stories about business owners fearing bankruptcy due to traffic congestion and reduced footfall.
One businessman even went as far as saying: “Dunstable isn’t dying – it’s already dead.”
The town has problems – the council admit that.
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, Dunstable is in the gutter but it’s looking up at the stars.
Plans and predictions for the town’s future outlined in the video are optimistically ambitious – they wouldn’t fit with Councillor Young’s “talk up Dunstable” ethos if they weren’t – but they are not the stuff of fantasy.
It could be said that Dunstable’s geography is, at present, a tick in the town’s ‘cons’ column – wilting as the flower competing for sunshine against Luton and Milton Keynes.
But the Luton Dunstable Guided Busway, the new M1-A5 link road and the proposed development of 7,000 new family homes seem to all be part of the council’s plan to make use of the town’s proximity to the country’s capital.
The video explains that the link road will “substantially reduce traffic congestion in the town centre”, while Mr Young claims that the new busway will enable commuters to get from Dunstable to Luton in 16 minutes, and from Dunstable to the centre of London “inside of an hour”.
He says that Dunstable will one day be “a place that a family can grow up in, and stay in”.
Another of the main features of the Dunstable regeneration plan is the A5-M1 link road, which will connect the M1 from a new Junction 11a to the A5 at Thorn Turn north of the town.
This new road will substantially reduce traffic congestion in the town centre.
Central Beds Council clearly has a vision for Dunstable and is keen to work with future investors in order to move towards “larger retail outlets and an improved shopping experience”.
In part, the video blames the recession for the rut that Dunstable has become stuck in, so with the economy still by no means out of the woods yet, it remains to be seen whether these promises can be delivered.
See the video for yourself at www.youtube.com/centralbedfordshire.
Youtube users have already started to share their views on Dunstable – A New Beginning.
Jimore19 said: “I am now looking to move to a town with a rail station rather than have to get a bus to a train station seven miles away, and then a train.”
MarkCastro78 said: “I would have preferred the railway to have been reinstated instead of the busway, but I’ll give it a go.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Luton
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South west