This part of Dunstable High Street is in desperate need of regeneration, but plans are in place to provide housing and new shop units
Most of the main roads in Dunstable have seen or are seeing redevelopment and empty shops filled with new businesses, but one road which has lagged behind the others is High Street South at the junction with Church Street in the centre of Dunstable.
The West side of the street is made up of small shop units, some with aspects to both High Street South and Middle Row Here there are 3 shop units that are now quite derelict and in serious need of improvement if only to smarten up the appearance of that row of shops.
On the opposite side of the road are 2 large distinct vacant buildings, a part refurbished building and a building that has recently been successfully converted from offices to apartments that would suit young professionals.
Starting from the corner of Church Street and High Street South is the old Dunstable Kitchens shop which has 4 or 5 one bedroom flats above. This was purchased at auction about 3 years ago and the owner started work on refurbishing the flats above and also applied for planning permission to add another flat in the roof space. Work stopped about 2 years ago and although I have spoken to the owner on a few occasions and put him in contact with fellow investors he is unsure when it will be complete.
A few doors along is what many in Dunstable will remember as the Woolworths store. A few years ago it reopened briefly as a Londis supermarket and has been closed since. This building was bought about 2 years ago and planning permission granted to demolish it and rebuild with smaller shop units and 26 apartments made up of 10 two bedroom apartments and 16 one bedroom apartments made possible by adding an extra floor to the new building.
Planning permission was granted in April 2015 and the owners recently sold the site. Our shop shares the same access drive to the rear of the site and in the last few weeks surveyors and ground investigations have taken place, so it looks like work might start soon.
Next door is Albion Buildings with William Hill bookmakers on the ground floor and 7 recently converted apartments on the 2 floors above.
A couple of doors further along is the old Moores store which closed in 2008. Planning permission was granted in 2014 to part demolish the building and build 4 flats and 5 houses whilst providing 2 shop spaces to the front. There has been no sign of any work starting yet, but with the high demand for property in Dunstable and the increasing improvements in the area with large companies such as Amazon locating here we expect to see something happening soon.
Once work starts and completes on these buildings it will bring much needed residential accommodation to the centre of Dunstable which in turn means more ‘locals’ to spend money in the local shops thereby encouraging more businesses to open in the shop units that are part of these developments. This is a good way of regenerating buildings such as these where the office space above is no longer required and should be encouraged by planners and the local communities.
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice