Developers told to go back to the drawing board over Luton flats

Plans to build 227 flats near Luton town centre have been deferred for further talks with the developer over a lack of affordable home contributions.

The outline scheme involves demolishing industrial and commercial buildings on nearly two acres of brownfield land at 10 Midland Road in High Town.

The flats would be provided in five blocks ranging from three-to seven-storeys high, with two shops, parking and some community space.

Applicant the Grammont Group intends to build 48 studio apartments, 59 one-bedroom, 114 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom flats.

The premises is currently a large three-to four-storey industrial building with office accommodation to the west of the site, according to a report to the council’s development control committee.

“Car sales company Auto Inns Cars Limited occupies the building with its associated forecourt,” says the report.

The project was recommended for approval by planning officers.

But councillors decided they wanted a more robust contribution to affordable housing, as part of the proposals.

“There is no mention of providing affordable housing, which is contrary to Luton Local Plan 2011-2031 policy,” explained the report.

“The council does not require studio or one-bedroom flats because of the abundance within the Luton housing market.

“More two, three and four-bedroom properties and flats are required to meet Luton’s housing need.”

Planning officers will be asked to encourage the developer to make an affordable homes offer as part of the project.

Education contributions of £393,646 for primary schools and £201,571 for secondary schools are being requested, added the report.

“The primary contribution will be put towards the creation of a new special free school in York Street and the secondary contribution will be put towards site access at the new Chiltern Academy.

“The High Town masterplan indicates that the application site is considered suitable for two to four-storey development, including 75 residential units with a mix of 16 houses and 59 apartments.

“Therefore, the principle of the residential redevelopment of the land is considered to be acceptable.”

The report said the scheme would not have “an adverse impact upon the grade II listed buildings in the High Town area”.

A more suitable mix of units has been included now with a higher percentage of larger two- and three-bedroom flats.

“This is a significant improvement over the originally submitted proposal and is considered to be acceptable in this highly sustainable location,” added the report.

“It has excellent public transport links and is close to the town centre.”

Permission was refused in March 2016 to convert and change the use of the upper ground and second floor to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), with the ground floor remaining industrial and the upper floor offices.