Luton Town Football Club’s chief executive has issued a response to C&R’s £7m investment in The Mall.
Reacting to C&R’s comments to Luton News that is has now changed its stance on Power Court (reported here), Gary Sweet, chief executive of 2020 Developments and LTFC, has issued the following statement.
“We thank The Luton News for asking our view on Capital & Regional’s latest release regarding our planning applications at Power Court and Newlands Park.
“Capital & Regional’s £7m investment into The Mall in Luton is very good news, which we applaud. Whilst this sum won’t make a material change to the town centre, nor is it enough to give the people of Luton what they truly deserve, any investment is warmly welcomed by us and is a good start for a brighter town centre. Which is why our plans seek to invest over £200m into the heart of Luton will ensure that brighter future.
“However, disappointingly, there are large inaccuracies in Capital & Regional’s claim that their position has changed with regards to our planning applications.
“Firstly, investment in their own property aside, there is nothing new in what they are saying. Senior representatives of Capital & Regional have previously publicly stated that the company was not against Power Court per se but maintained their objection to our application for a £300m+ investment at Newlands Park whilst knowing throughout that both are intrinsically linked.
“Secondly, with regard to Capital & Regional’s claim that we have refused to meet, I can confirm that we have met Capital & Regional several times, always carrying a positive attitude and open mind to working towards an accord. To date, these meetings have been fruitless. Indeed, our original architectural designs to Power Court were changed in order to encourage Capital & Regional to allow our two schemes to ‘communicate’ with each other; but this made no difference to their position.
“In the last few months I can confirm that 2020 has received no direct formal invitation from Capital & Regional for a meeting. Indeed, three weeks ago a meeting was suggested by Luton Borough Council, which I and other representatives had agreed to take part in – suggesting available dates – but on the basis that Capital & Regional’s position had changed. We are awaiting confirmation from them as to their availability, but in the meantime, however, this statement clearly shows that their position has not changed in any way whatsoever.
“Thirdly, to be factual for a moment, the retail element of Newlands Park is nothing like the size of The Mall, as has been claimed by Capital & Regional in their statement. The retail element of around 40 stores constitutes around a third of The Mall’s floor space and is nonetheless focused on a very different type of retail offer designed to stop the leakage of Luton’s retail spending up and down the M1 and increase the retail variety Luton has to offer. More importantly, the retail element of Newlands Park constitutes around a third of the floor space of the total development truly making it a mixed-use, place-making site with high quality, aspirational offices at its forefront.
“To clarify, we are completely committed to the successful regeneration of our town. After a number of changes in opinion Capital & Regional have indeed previously supported Power Court but now continue to misunderstand and misrepresent our proposals for Newlands Park despite all details being available in black and white for over 20 months.
“We remain focussed on making both Power Court and Newlands Park a reality bringing 10,000 jobs to the town and over £250m to the local economy each year – benefits that will contribute to a more affluent, dynamic and enjoyable place to live, work and play. We remain firmly committed to investing heavily into Luton’s town centre making at a more desirable and vibrant place for people to enjoy.
“As local investors in Luton, our genuine desire, through the development of both of our schemes is to encourage further largescale investment in Luton to help improve its image for once and for all, to those outsiders’ intent on belittling our birthplace and the place in which we live and work.
“I, along with other relevant members of 2020, are always open for any dialogue with interested parties who are genuine in making this happen.”