Luton Town says it is a step closer to realising its dream of building its new stadium at Power Court after today revealing it has agreed the sale of its Newlands Park site.
The Hatters' property arm, 2020 Developments, has announced it has struck a deal with an investment fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI) and the UK developer Wrenbridge, for the development of the 37-acre site at Junction 10 of the M1.
Completed in October, but only made public this lunchtime, the Hatters say the deal will go a considerable way towards securing funding for the club’s new stadium.
Gary Sweet, Chief Executive of Luton Town and 2020 Developments said: “We are delighted to be working with MSREI and Wrenbridge on this important milestone deal for us. Whilst we still have a lot of work to do, selling this land now means that the planned delivery of our new stadium at Power Court continues, moving us closer to realising our dream of delivering a new home for our football club, which we targeted ourselves with when we took custodianship of the club back in 2008.”
An outline planning permission was granted by Luton Borough Council in September 2019 for Newlands. But 2020 Developments has since reviewed the proposals to ensure they meet current market conditions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two revised outline planning applications, covering the north and south plots of the site have been submitted to the council and are due to be considered in January 2022 and feature less space for retail and leisure.
Following the sale, the new owners will be consulting with 2020 Developments as it looks to progress the Newlands scheme.
Mr Sweet added: "We have a responsibility to help Wrenbridge see the current applications through and we are at their service should they require our assistance moving forward."
And Mr Sweet said the sale of the land was a huge boost given the pandemic and the state of the economy, but added that it didn't mean the club's operational budgets would alter.
"Supporters shouldn’t expect us to change the way the club operates at all but what it does do is provides cashflow to allow us to continue our Power Court development in very challenging market conditions," he said.
He added that the deal kept Power Court "on track" saying: "While there are still global market difficulties we need to respond to, such as material cost increases and a potential drought of skills, we’re still intent on getting all the groundworks and infrastructure started at the earliest opportunity and then the stadium built. This will follow our detailed planning application, which we’ll submit in the first half of 2022."
Michael Moran, Chief Operating Officer of 2020 Developments said: “Beginning with the original purchase of this site [Newlands Park] in 2015 we have followed a clear investment strategy to deliver a new stadium and meaningful regeneration on a sustainable basis. There has been enormous interest in this valuable site and we are delighted to structure a deal here that is in the best interests of the club and its supporters.”
Ben Coles, CEO of Wrenbridge, said of the deal: “We are thrilled to announce our purchase of the Newlands Park site to deliver a high-quality and sustainable scheme that will benefit the community in Luton in so many ways. The development will be a catalyst for further investment in Luton and will provide hundreds of new jobs for local people.”
Shamik Narotam, a Managing Director at MSREI, added: “We look forward to working with Wrenbridge and 2020 Developments on developing Newlands Park. The project is consistent with our strategy of identifying and developing high-quality and sustainable employment led schemes across the South East.”
The 2020 Developments statement concluded: "Wrenbridge’s proven track record in delivering high-quality, sustainable schemes, together with MSREI’s partnership, made it the ideal purchaser to continue the good work of 2020 Developments.
"Aside from the clear facilitating leverage towards the progress of Luton Town’s new stadium, the delivery of Newlands Park will have significant benefits for Luton and its community including the realisation of a long-held ambition to create a high-quality development on the site that provides jobs and economic benefit to Luton leading to the provision of a significant contribution in Gross Value Added to the local economy."
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