Opinions differ over retail impact of 2020 Developments plans

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A campaign group in support of 2020's developments at Power Court and Newlands Park has issued its response to the retail impact assessments of the plans.

Save Our Town claim to speak for “the vast majority of the people of Luton” in deeming 2020’s plans as essential to the regeneration of the town.

Chairman Nigel Green stated: “Our committee has considered both the Chase & Partners and WYG impact assessment reports and we note that both are positive in their conclusions.

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“It is obvious that the impacts of the proposals will be negligible to any business operating in the town centre, which effectively means The Mall.”

Save Our Town noted the inclusion of a ‘Permitted User List’ and an ‘Exclusion List’ which could be used to enforce Newlands Park’s high end retail offer and prevent any poaching of tenants from The Mall in the town centre. Enforcement of the scheme would come through a Section 106 agreement between the developer and the local authority, the first agreement of its kind on such a large scale.

Mr Green added: “Our conclusion is unequivocal. Any possible negative impact on the town centre from Newlands Park alone is likely to be a very low single percentage figure – perhaps 1.7% to 3%.

“There can be no doubt whatsoever, that when the positive impact of the Power Court development, together with 10,000 new jobs and £250m annual improvement to the local and regional economy is considered, the net result will be a substantial positive impact on town centre retailers. The positive impact will be further enhanced by the catalyst created by Newlands Park and Power Court for future developments and investment.”

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Owners of The Mall, Capital & Regional, stated that Chase & Partners’ report showed the ‘aspirational’ retail claim for Newlands did not stand up to scrutiny and a mass market retail offer would be needed to make the proposed scheme work.

C&R stated: “Chase proposes a number of technical solutions including restrictions on which retail brands could be approached, non-poaching agreements and a retailer exclusion list.

“There are no quoted examples of such an approach working in practice anywhere in the UK.

“To have to consider them at all highlights a real issue of harmful retail impact.”

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C&R also called on the council to explain why it took four months after the Chase report was received for the authority to publish it in the public domain.

> Watch out for next week’s Luton News where we respond to the unsubstantiated claims by a vocal minority of Hatters supporters claiming that letters opposing the Power Court plan were fake.

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