A leading retail landlord, which owns major shopping centres in Milton Keynes and Watford, has withdrawn its opposition to Luton Town’s Newlands Park project.
Intu Properties had previously registered concerns with Luton Borough Council over the Hatters’ plan for a retail/leisure/office development near Junction 10 of the M1, a scheme which would help finance the redevelopment of Power Court for a stadium.
The Hatters’ planning applications were first submitted in August 2016, with Newlands likely to include 65% “luxury” retailers and 35% mass market outlets.
Intu had written to the council in October 2016 and May 2018 highlighting “issues” with the plans and putting forward a holding objection.
But now, having digested subsequent retail reports on the applications, which outlined more details of a permitted retailer list for Newlands and non-poaching agreements that could be put in place, Intu has changed its stance.
A letter to the council from its agents, Lichfields, states: “Intu is reassured with the proposed restriction of tenants to predominantly those suggested on the permitted user list of ‘aspirational and luxury brand retailers’ as set out in the Chase & Partners reports.
“Intu is comfortable that the suggested mix of tenants, together with the additional information provided in the applicant’s addendum report, will ensure that the retail impact on the centres within the surrounding region can be sustained. Subject to appropriate mechanisms being put in place to secure this distinctive aspirational mixed of uses mix, Intu is prepared to withdraw its previous submissions made in relation to these proposals.”
Intu say if the council intends to grant planning permission they would want the chance to comment on the final details of the intended retailer restrictions, adding: “This is necessary in order to be satisfied that Intu’s concerns are adequately addressed – and to confirm its objection can be withdrawn.”
Reacting to the news, Michael Moran, Chief Operating Officer for 2020 Developments, praised Intu for “looking at the bigger picture”.
He said: “Intu are the biggest retail property landlord in the country. It’s pretty unusual for someone to step back and withdraw.
“Watford and MK are big, successful retail centres that already take a significant amount of money from Luton.
“Intu are too big and too successful not to look at this properly. They wanted to get into the detail properly and see if it was justified [to object]. It’s a big proposal so it’s right that it takes time and effort to look at it.
“There was nothing to stop them sticking in an objection letter and letting it take its course. I think they appreciate Luton has the opportunity for major regeneration.
“Intu has interests north and south of the town. They are clearly experts in the region. This confirms it is a matter for the people of Luton.
“We are pleased as we don’t believe Newlands Park will have a material effect on Watford and MK.”
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