‘No skyscrapers in the middle of Kingsland’

editorial image

A “cohesive plan” of the Kingsland regeneration project in Houghton Regis will be presented in January – according to Central Bedfordshire Council.

Further speculation has mounted around the plans since a September article in the Guardian.

Speaking at Houghton Regis Town Council’s partnership committee last week, CBC’s head of regeneration Jason Longhurst branded the article – which outlined CBC’s arrangement with Rio Ferdinand’s Legacy project – as “not wholly accurate”.

He said: “It’s a Catch 22 situation, there’s not a whole lot happening other than looking at the site.”

Legacy is a development company founded by former England football captain Rio Ferdinand alongside partners West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble and Brighton & Hove Albion striker Bobby Zamora.

Their stated objective is to make a difference through improved sport facilities, with a focus on new housing.

Mr Longhurst said: “Six to eight months ago, we were approached and engaged in exploring opportunities with Legacy.

“CBC has now entered the memorandum of understanding with the Legacy project.

“It’s a broad offer and we’re waiting for them to make the offer clear.

“Unfortunately ... the image that went with [the Guardian article] was taken from a London-based project. So we’re not going to be building 12 to 15 storey skyscrapers in the middle of Kingsland!”

The 22-acre site at Kingsland is among the 20 per cent most deprived areas in the UK, with 41 per cent of children living in income deprived households.

In March, CBC stated Kingsland’s regeneration would include a leading sports academy – potentially the base for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation – and over 1,000 new homes. It is supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Longhurst added that CBC will present an “outline” of what the Kingsland site might be like in January 2017.

This will be followed by a community engagement exercise and around 18 months of planning. No work would take place at the site at least until the end of 2018.