Exclusive: Bute Street car park '˜eyed as new home for Barnfield College'

Barnfield College is in talks to relocate to a Luton town centre car park, the Herald & Post understands.

Bute Street car park, Luton
Bute Street car park, Luton

This newspaper has uncovered documents which reveal that Luton Borough Council has immediate plans to sell the Bute Street car park, with a report set to be laid in front of LBC’s executive committee on April 4.

The 0.74 hectare piece of land, which was formerly the site of a bus station, lies very close to the town’s central train station and a source has told the Herald & Post that it is being seriously considered as a new home for Barnfield College.

In October last year the college announced its intention to sell its sites in New Bedford Road and Enterprise Way to fund a move to central Luton.

Barnfield College, New Bedford Road, Luton

At the time its principal Tim Eyton-Jones said that the relocation “would benefit all”.

He added that Barnfield’s current HQ in Bushmead is “no longer fit for purpose” and “difficult to access by large numbers of prospective Luton students who find it easier to travel further afield to other institutions”.

A college spokesperson could not confirm or deny if Bute Street is in its sights, but told the Herald & Post: “The principal has been very clear in the three-year development plan to look at a more central location for the college.

“The reason behind that is that we need new, excellent facilities for students.

Bute Street car park, Luton

“At the moment there are no firm plans other than that.”

Following the demolition of the Bute Street bus station, the land was turned into a temporary 180 space car park in late 2008.

Seven years later the site is still being used by shoppers and commuters, but Luton Borough Council has repeatedly attempted to promote the site for development.

In August 2014 the Herald & Post reported that LBC rejected plans for a new Morrisons in Dallow Road, telling the retailer that it had failed to consider Bute Street and Power Court as “two sequentially preferable sites”.

Barnfield College, New Bedford Road, Luton

A report by development control manager David Gauntlett read: “(Bute Street) sits adjacent to the Northern Gateway and is allocated as an improvement area for the central bus and railway stations.

“In the emerging local plan the wider site is earmarked for widespread regeneration.

It added: “The site was identified in the letter sent out by the council to the four major foodstore operators (Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Tesco) as being potentially available for foodstore development.”

Bute Street car park, Luton