Since 2001, Sandy has grown considerably, with new estates springing up firstly on Fallowfield, a development of 900 homes to the north of Sandy, followed by St Ivel Park in the same area. A link road from the A1 now runs into the industrial estate in Sunderland Road.
In between times, the old Magonlia House in the centre of town was demolished (but not replaced while the original developers wrangled with planners over just what should go there). The area was however generally 'tidied up' and a small estate has been put up and called 'Downing Court' - after Richard Downing, who was involved in many of the town's activities for a number of years. The old Baptist Chapel in Pleasant Place has been full modernised and is now used as offices.
We now have the new 'Magnolia House' nearing completion - the latest owners of the plot have proposed that the new building, which consist now of 7 apartments, with parking accessible from the rear, should be called 'Mayfair House' after the company's trading name. Hopefully, the Town Council will persuade them to retain the original name.
Lately, we now have 4 Indian restaurants in the town, with the opening of Lounge India in November - this on the former site of Gafneys/Gabriels/Island Bar & Grill on the corner of Bedford Road and St Neots Road.
The town's library has been extended and was completed in March 2010. St Ivel Park is now complete to the north of the town, close by the Fallowfield estate. There have been a few other 'infill' developments around the town, the latest of which is 'Greyhound View', off the High Street. Church Mews, off London Road, has been built on the site of the former Rose & Crown public house.
Also in early 2011, traffic calming has come to the busy St Neots Road. There was a significant amount of objection to the scheme, not because residents thought that the proposal was a bad one, more to do with how it was planned to be done. After a bit of to-ing & fro-ing between Central Beds and Sandy Town Councils, a modified scheme was agreed to. As with all compromises, the result is perhaps less than satisfactory, with the 'cushions' in place at the northern end of St Neots Road being not quite the speed deterrent that they are in other places, as they appear to be smaller and of a lower height than elsewhere. The same applies to the 'tables' that are in place in other sections of the road - these too do not seem to be very effective against all but the most timid of drivers. As to heavy traffic noise, the predicted deterrent effect has not yet clicked in and the loud clanking noises, especially of empty bulk mineral and grain carriers (some of which are owned and run by a local agricultural firm), can by regularly heard, including into the evening. Perhaps things will calm down but it's a wait and see situation at present.
There has been recent planning activity in respect of bringing a Tesco into the town. A survey of residents found them overwhelmingly in favour of the move and it is now highly likely that a Tesco supermarket will open it's doors on the old industrial site down on New Road. What happens in the town centre is the subject of much speculation, with a lot of positive opinion pointing out that our near neighbour, Biggleswade, has survived both the addition of Sainsbury's at Bells Brook and also an ASDA, which was built on the site of the former Greene King bottling plant and much closer to the town centre.
Other developments have finally got underway (early 2011), with the former car showroom that had lain unoccupied in Church Path for many years, now sporting another small estate of 'affordable' housing.
There has also been regular 'infilling' - Scotts Farm Shop, in Sunderland Road, near the town centre, has become another small development of residential housing. A number of older proprties have been demolished and replaced with new smaller, accommodation units and the back gardens of a number of houses in St Neots Road (and elsewhere in the town) have been sold off to developers, who have built apartment blocks and bungalows.
Near the town centre, alongside the roundabout, No. 7 St Neots Road has in turn been the Bedford Building Society, Woodfines Solicitors, Gaffneys Restaurant Gabriels Restaurant, The Island Bar and Grill and latterly Gabriels Restaurant once more. However, Gabriels had closed again by mid 2010 and the site has been taken over by another Indian restaurant, 'Lounge India'.
The old Stead & Simpsons shoe shop in the middle of the Market square, was for a while in 2009, The Perfect Cup coffee shop. Before the site was Stead & Simpsons, it had been used as a car sales showroom and prior to that in the 1950's, a petrol station. In the end, we have been 'blessed' with yet another Indian restaurant, 'The Maharajah of Sandy'! In the early part of the 20th Century, the premises had been used as a wine & spirit merchants, so it could be said that the site has been 'well used'.
In the commercial sector, many of the shops on the High Street and in the parades close to the Market Square, have changed hands a number of times in recent years. The Flower Room, once located in the main car park, has now moved into the parade on the south side of the road that leads out to the central roundabout. On the same parade, the dentist has changed hands in recent times and in the parade opposite, where once for many years there was a cycle shop, we now have Trudy's Deli, although in 2010, following severe competition from the local supermarket, the 'Deli' side has been much reduced, leaving us with two cafes on the Market Square.
Update 31st March 2011, the proposal for a Tesco store in the town was finally approved by Central Beds Council and will be built down on New Road on the old RKB/Tower Hill site. However, it may be another 12 months before it opens for business.
There has also been a traffic calming scheme put into St Neots Road and, after one or two 'adjustments' to the original scheme, it is finally in place.
In the commercial sector, many of the shops on the High Street and in the parades close to the Market Square, have changed hands a number of times in recent years. The Flower Room, once located in the main car park, has now moved into the parade on the south side of the road that leads out to the central roundabout. On the same parade, the dentist has changed hands in recent times and in the parade opposite, where once for many years there was a cycle shop, we now have Trudy's Deli. The Post Office, which has moved several times, and was once part of a combined Spar convenience store, is now on its own again and sits next to the Spar, which has returned to what it was when combined with the Post Office, i.e. mainly stationery.
Who knows what the future holds? Certainly, there have been many changes in the last fifty years or so and there is now little evidence of Sandy' market gardeniing past. However, despite th busy A1 running through the western side of Sandy and a significant increase in population with all that that entails, modern Sandy is still relatively surrounded by a semi-rural landscape.
Various Town Centre views, August 2010 © 2010 Sandy Community Website