Capital & Regional says it has “fundamentally changed its position” on Luton Town Football Club’s plans for Power Court while announcing its own £7m investment into The Mall.
C&R owns the shopping centre and received heavy criticism from residents and LTFC fans after it opposed the football club’s plans to relocate the stadium to Power Court last year.
Today, a C&R spokesman said: “Where we’ve changed our policy is that we are now completely supportive of the principle of the site on Power Court.
“We absolutely see the benefits but we do have some concerns over the application, insofar as the proposals could interact with the town centre better.
“We want to work with 2020 to have discussion but 2020 refuse to meet with us.”
While C&R states its position has changed for the proposed stadium at Power Court, it remains opposed to 2020 Developments’ plans for ‘Newlands Park’ – a mixed-use leisure and retail development off Junction 10 of the M1 – which 2020 regards as crucial to facilitating the new stadium.
The spokesman added: “We fully support the redevelopment of Junction 10, but where we remain opposed is that we cannot countenance 750,000sq ft of retail and leisure – it’s essentially about the same as The Mall.
“But we have to work with 2020 ... we have fundamentally changed our position.”
The £7 million upgrade of The Mall is set to include some “exciting” changes, which include:
> Family zone – a new family room with provision for buggy access, baby changing and feeding, toddler toilets and new seating.
> Children’s play area – located within the family zone, the young children’s play area includes ‘soft’ climbing frames, obstacles and blocks.
> Feast Street – The Entertainer toy shop has been moved to this area already. C&R states it is securing vacant possession of other units and creation of a better quality ‘grab and go’ food court area with an improved entrance from George Street.
> Entrance enhancements – more welcoming and better aesthetic profile onto surrounding streets.> Mall ambience – improved lighting, planting, general seating and improved flooring. Work has been ongoing for some time on conceptual designs and has now moved onto detail design.
Construction is planned to start in September and C&R states there will be minimal disruption to the 20 million visitors who visit The Mall each year.
C&R adds that the upgrade programme represents an additional £7 million investment, on top of £30 million spent maintaining the shopping centre with new retailers and services since 2010.
The company insists it is seeking to engage with 2020 Developments and Luton Town Football Club in support of their aspirations for a new stadium for The Hatters on Power Court.
Mike McGuiness from C&R said: “As owners of the Mall we remain committed to Luton town centre as long term investors.
“Since 2010 we have invested over £30 million in maintaining The Mall with new retailers and services. With a series of new members of the Capital and Regional team now in place, we see a positive future for The Mall alongside the ongoing enhancement of the town centre.
“After carrying out catchment research we set up some customer focus groups. We listened to what they had to say in order to build on the solid base we have as a Community shopping centre and we believe this upgrade is giving the local community what they want.
“We are, therefore, excited to be implementing the next phase of upgrades in The Mall to greatly improve the shopper and family experience throughout.”
2020 Developments has been contacted for comment.