Hatters’ plans for J10a development are ‘just what Luton needs’

Plans for the M1 J10a development, with Stockwood Park Golf Club to the north

Plans for the M1 J10a development, with Stockwood Park Golf Club to the north

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Initial plans for a major development on M1 J10a ‘are just what Luton needs’, according to Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet.

From Wednesday to Friday Luton Town FC and Luton Borough Counci shared a stall at the MIPIM UK trade exhibition in London, at which the club’s vision for M1 junction 10a was unveiled.

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

Due to its size the 40 acre site is seen as the prime spot for an enabling development, which will allow the club to build a new stadium elsewhere in the town.

Its location is also key– it has been heralded as the ‘gateway to Luton’ as it is passed by thousands of motorists on the M1 every day.

The design for the development is centred around 500,000 sq feet of office space, which is estimated to create between 4000 and 4500 jobs for the town.

Plans also include a hotel, retail and leisure facilities.

Speaking to the Luton News yesterday, club chief executive Gary Sweet said: “Most people who know anything about Luton have said that it is just what the town needs– a fresh face and a change of perception to the 200,000 vehicles which pass it each day.

“The principle of the exhibition was to seek partnerships for offices, potential tenants and longer term funding to help build and keep it going.

“The club itself does not have the capital to build everything so it is about spreading the risk of construction across other joint venure partners.”

He added: “Not suprisingly we are getting alot of support from the council because of what the scheme will do for the town.

“It livens up the gateway site and given the growth plans for the airport it is fundamental if we as Lutonians are to have a different perception of the town.”

Moving forward large plans for an office-led mixed use development appears to be an unnatural position for a football club, but Mr Sweet is confident the scheme will come to fruition.

He said: “Business is business at the end of the day.

“I have led the project and have learned alot– that is thanks to the people we have recruited.

“These are technical experts in their field of planning and development advice, we have got the best people in the business.”

He added: “We are more than capable of learning as we go and in some ways local knowledge and passion is far more important than technical know how.

“At this stage we are not talking about which brands or tenants could be going in.

“Capability Green has been magnificent in bringing blue chip companies to the borough and I am confident our scheme will attract the right kind of people.

“There are alot of growing businesses in Luton that might see this as a chance to expand.”

Despite the significant number of barriers LTFC faces to get the project off the ground, Mr Sweet asserted that the club remains fixed on its goal to build a new stadium.

Power Court and land off Venue 360, Gypsy Lane, have long been suggested as possible sites for the ground.

Mr Sweet said: “We are interested in one or two pieces of land around Luton but we would never seek to do anything that would be to the detriment of the town.”