Public art takes centre stage at new affordable homes in Leighton Buzzard

Residents have moved in at a new development of much-needed affordable homes on a former quarry in Leighton Buzzard.

Public Art At Brickyard Quarry By Sculptor Graeme Mitcheson

Leading housing provider Stonewater has built the 37 houses and flats at Brickyard Quarry, Lestone Mews, Grovebury Road.

The scheme features a striking sculpture commemorating the area’s local history, centring on Leighton Buzzard Light Railway (LBLR), which was built after the First World War to transport sand from the town’s quarries.

Created by sculptor Graeme Mitcheson, the stone monument depicts two LBLR volunteers working on a locomotive at the line’s centenary celebrations.

Stonewater’s affordable homes, supported by Central Bedfordshire Council, were developed by Bellway Homes as part of a larger scheme of 165 homes.

There are 31 homes for affordable rent to local people – 14 three-bedroom, two two-bedroom and three four-bedroom houses, as well as three one-bedroom and nine two-bedroom flats – along with six three-bedroom houses for shared ownership.

Chris Montague, Director of Development (East and North) at Stonewater, said: “Nestled between Luton and Milton Keynes, this well-connected development is one of several schemes we are working on across Bedfordshire to alleviate housing demand and provide affordable homes for local people.

“With all our new developments, we strive to enhance the public realm by commissioning artists like Graeme Mitcheson, who are able to create pieces that convey a distinctive narrative of place, uncovering histories and nuances of the area, for the whole community to enjoy.

“Having started construction back in 2019, on what was a derelict brownfield site, we’re proud to have delivered these much-needed homes in Leighton Buzzard with Bellway Homes and support from Bedfordshire Council.”

Brickyard Quarry’s railway-themed sculpture is part of Stonewater’s longstanding commitment to adding value and creating a sense of place with public art at its new developments.

The organisation recently launched its first George Blunden Public Art Prize, named in honour of Stonewater’s founding Board Chair, who was awarded a British Empire Medal this summer in recognition of his influential work in the housing sector.

Graeme Mitcheson, said: “I really enjoyed creating my first piece of public art for Stonewater and seeing it installed at this new development.

“When researching the town’s history, I was inspired by the volunteers who were committed to preserving the LBLR in the 1960s and were able to continue running the line seamlessly. Made from hard-wearing sandstone, the sculpture tells the story of those volunteers to demonstrate the real sense of community that has long existed in Leighton Buzzard.”