THE daughter of a former sub-dean of Westminster Abbey chained
herself to the railings outside Church House last week as part of a
long-running protest at plans by the Church Commissioners to build
an out-of-town retail park in Leighton Buzzard.
Victoria Harvey, the daughter of Canon Anthony Harvey, who was
sub-dean and Archdeacon of Westminster between 1987 and 1999, says
that the proposed Grovebury Road retail park would endanger the
future of Leighton Buzzard's town centre.
Last year, Miss Harvey sought a judicial review of the Central
Bedfordshire District Council's decision to grant planning
permission for the development; but this was rejected by the High
Court, which said that she had "not demonstrated that there are any
arguable grounds of error on the part of the Council".
Miss Harvey argues that the Church Commissioners are ignoring
their ethical-investment-policy obligation to be "sensitive to
"I have tried every democratic and legal means so my only option
is direct action," she said, in a statement. "It is disgraceful
that the Church Commissioners are breaking their ethical policy for
a quick buck at the expense of our local community in Leighton
Buzzard. . . Market traders, residents, the town council, local
retailers, and local clergy have all opposed this." She said that
the development would take a minimum of £2 million each year from
existing town centre stores.
The Church Commissioners' head of strategic land investment,
John Weir, said: "Our guiding principle from the outset has been to
offer real retail choice in Leighton Buzzard, which complements the
town centre offer. The development will provide a number of
community benefits including the creation of up to 100 jobs,
substantial contributions to the town centre, improved transport
links, and the potential for up to 15 small start-up business