More Luton pub sites set to be used for housing

Town's once lively pub scene has dwindled in its heyday of 325 premises to around 40 now

By Euan Duncan
Friday, 14th January 2022, 1:47 pm

Luton' s diminishing number of pubs is back in the spotlight with three more ex-hostelry sites set to be turned into housing.

A change in lifestyles has heaped pressure on the viability of many of these premises in recent years, while the pandemic has had a further impact on both the food and drink industry, and entertainment businesses.

Plans for houses or flats have been submitted to Luton Borough Council on the sites of the former Bar Eireann and the adjoining Edge nightclub, The Parrot at Farley Hill and The Hibbert Arms in New Town.

The Hibbert Arms (Google)

Proposals for The Hibbert consist of one three-bedroom apartment and a two-bed flat on first floor with alterations to the windows.

The Hibbert Street project also includes a first floor back infill extension, a dormer and roof light at the back, and five front roof lights, as well as a change of use from a drinking establishment to residential.

An application for 21 homes has been submitted on the site of The Parrot pub at Whipperley Ring, with parking, an amenity area and other works. This would consist of 17 three-bedroom and four two-bed properties.

And the scheme for 96 to 98 Park Street and 2 Chobham Street involves a five-storey residential building with 17 flats, once the ex-Edge nightclub and Bar Eireann premises have been demolished. There would be ten two-bedroom and seven one-bed properties.

The Bar Eireann and the adjoining Edge nightclub site (google)

Luton’s once lively pub scene has dwindled from its heyday of 325 premises to around 40 now.

Only three years ago, the borough council appointed former councillor Mark Rivers its very own ‘night mayor’ to help boost the town’s night life.

Then infrastructure director at the local authority Sarah Hall said at the time: “Pubs are a vital element of the mix of leisure and entertainment on offer in any town centre, including here in Luton, and we're not alone in the challenges we as a community face to keep them thriving."

Businesswoman Tina Haynes blamed "changing habits and soaring costs for hitting smaller pubs hard" back in December 2018.

Parrot Pub site (google)

She said larger venues can offer discounts, but “most small businesses don’t have that luxury”, adding: “The biggest single thing to affect the industry is changing attitude, along with smoking."

Ms Haynes referred to other issues, such as online dating, stagnating wages and the lure of larger towns, such as Watford and Milton Keynes, being detrimental to Luton’s pub trade.

“I spoke to a major beer wholesaler in this town who described the situation as dire," she warned back then.

“If, as I suspect, the operators were only just making ends meet, then it’s my prediction that more places will shut their doors and not reopen.

“I think the ‘night mayor’ really has a ‘nightmare’ of a job if he’s going to revitalise the town. There are 43 pubs left. If there are 23 this time next year I’ll be surprised.”

All three pub revamps are likely to be considered in due course by the local authority's development management committee.

What's your view on Luton's pub scene? Do you still visit a pub regularly? Why not give a shout-out to your favourite? Email [email protected]