Councillors are being recommended to approve Luton Town's revised Newlands Park plans at January 5 meeting

Planning officers' report supports scheme that has been amended due to pandemic

By Euan Duncan
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 10:26 am

Revised sets of plans for the enabling development for Luton Town Football Club's Power Court stadium are recommended for approval by borough council planning officers.

Separate outline applications for the north and south of the Newlands Park site are to be considered by the local authority's development control committee tomorrow night. (Weds 5th)

It was revealed last month 2020 Developments (Luton) had struck a deal with an investment fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI) and the UK developer Wrenbridge for the development by the M1 junction 10.

Newlands Park image - credit: Leslie Jones Architecture

The committee granted outline planning permission for the 37-acre site in September 2019. But the Hatters' property arm and applicant 2020 Developments has since reviewed the proposals to meet current market conditions following the pandemic.

The revised schemes, covering the north and south plots of land, feature less space for retail and leisure, and include environmental impact assessments.

The north application is for mixed-use development with commercial, business and service uses (including retail and leisure floorspace), flexible commercial and business floorspace and parking, according to a report to councillors.

And the south features a mixed-use development for flexible commercial and business floorspace (including office floorspace), public art and/or a gateway feature, and parking, said the report.

Site layout for Newlands Park

Both are recommended for approval subject to Section 106 legal agreements being signed and referral to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

"The majority of the site is semi-improved grassland bounded by a network of hedgerows," added the report.

"The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) lies more than a mile and a quarter to the west of the land.

"The wider surroundings of the site consists largely of countryside, some of

which is within designated Green Belt although not the proposed development area.

"The area has been allocated for mixed-use development since the mid-1990s.

"This allocation originated when the council identified the site as its preferred location for a new football stadium for the Hatters."

The sale of the Newlands site was completed in October and the deal will go a considerable way towards securing funding for the club’s new stadium, the football club has stated.

Chief executive of Luton Town and 2020 Developments Gary Sweet said last month: "We have a responsibility to help Wrenbridge see the current applications through and we're at the company's service should it require our assistance moving forward.

"Supporters shouldn’t expect us to change the way the club operates at all. But what it does is provides cash flow to allow us to continue our Power Court development in very challenging market conditions."

Plans for a multi-use indoor stadium and supporting hotel, leisure and education facilities, with parking and a park and ride facility, were submitted in April 1995, explained the report referring to the Kohlerdome scheme.

Five months later, it was followed by an application for a multi-use stadium and arena, and supporting hotel, retail and petrol filling station facilities, with parking and a park and ride facility.

Both of these applications were called in by the Secretary of State and were refused planning permission in August 1998 on highways grounds.