Luton Borough Council hits back at C&R criticism over town centre improvements plan

An artist's impression of The Mall and Power Court Stadium from C&R's vision document
An artist's impression of The Mall and Power Court Stadium from C&R's vision document

Luton Borough Council has hit back at criticism from the owners of The Mall that it has failed to engage with plans to improve the town centre.

On August 27, Capital & Regional submitted its vision document for ‘Reshaping Luton Town Centre’ which includes various designs for beautifying the areas around The Mall and proposed Power Court stadium.

C&R has criticised Luton Borough Council for refusing to consider its vision document until Power Court and Luton Town’s enabling Newlands Park scheme have been determined. It claims the prospect for “reshaping and renewal” of the town centre would be harmed if Newlands is built.

Planning permission was first submitted by the Hatters in August 2016, but no date has yet been set for the planning committee to determine the plans.

Capital & Regional stated: “C&R has sought to engage with Luton Borough Council in the preparation of a new strategy for the town centre in follow up of the Local Plan Inspector’s recommendations for early review.

“The council leadership has resisted engagement with such work until the Newlands and Power Court applications are determined. This will be too late if planning permissions are granted.”

The document includes numerous ideas for ‘place-making’ in the town centre, with added trees and greenery, improved landscaping around St Mary’s Church as well as a large food court within The Mall.

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The council rejects C&R’s criticism that it has no long-term plan for improving the town centre. Our local plan 2011-31 contains thorough, detailed assessment and strategies for the improvement and extended use of this vital, central location in the town.

“We have consistently told C&R that we are always happy to meet with them to discuss any issues and concerns they have and look forward to this offer being taken advantage of. We have discussed their initial concepts for improvements including the potential to invest in redesigning the entrances to the Mall. As we would be with any other developer, we remain open to further discussion.”

Nigel Green, chairman of Save Our Town, added: “We’ve seen Capital and Regional’s vision and it’s nothing to get excited or concerned about. It’s a glossy brochure full of proposed, uncosted ideas, pretty pictures, and frequent use of the word ‘community’, despite scant evidence of any engagement...”