Regeneration plan praised despite ‘need for cheap leisure facilities’

Aylesbury waterside artist's impression exchange development masterplan PNL-140429-154942001
Aylesbury waterside artist's impression exchange development masterplan PNL-140429-154942001

A £15million masterplan to regenerate Aylesbury town centre has been welcomed by politicians – although there are a few reservations.

The scheme will bring a brand new restaurant quarter to the town and redevelop the area around the Odeon cinema – with a new ‘cloisters-style’ building the highlight.

Labour councillor Michael Beall, who sits on Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “This project looks great for the feel of the town, the only thing I think at the moment is that we need more leisure, something like a bowling alley.

“This seems to be all about attracting middle class people back into the town, but there has to be something there for people who don’t have much money too.

“But the fact that they are moving ahead with things at last is positive, and we may see these things in the future.”

And the Aylesbury Society warned that work needs to be done to make sure restaurants already in the town do not suffer as a result of the scheme.

The society’s honorary secretary Roger King, said: “More restaurants are needed to deal with the influx of visitors as Aylesbury becomes a ‘cultural centre of choice’.

“But I am worried about the migration of visitors to the new Waterside North area from the rest of the town.Areas like Kingsbury could suffer, it is already fast becoming a very intimidating area with congregations of vagrants causing falling footfall and a general run down air.”

And chairman Keith Robinson was cautious about other phases of the scheme which could include more retail spaces.

He said: “Over the last 20 years plan have come and gone and unless there are some funds available, willing developers and a need for more shops, these plans could be shelved.”

Steven Lambert, leader of the Lib Dem group at Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “ At this moment in time I am looking at these plans as a good bit of PR for the Aylesbury Vale District Council administration, not for the town.

“I’m waiting to see a shovel in the ground before I give judgement.

“Having spoken with Martin Tett I can see the county council is putting its money where its mouth is.

“Their plans are very well developed, but all I can see from the district council is pretty pictures.”

Phase one of the project will see a brand new restaurant quarter and square being built in the top corner of the Exchange Street car park.

The development would include new pedestrian routes to Exchange Street and Walton Street.

The 95 parking spaces lost by the scheme will be replaced as park of the county council’s redevelopment of the Old County Offices.