'Innovative' plans to transform Luton's The Mall could begin as early as this year
Radical plans to overhaul Luton's The Mall could start as early as this year, according to its owner.
Capital & Regional (C&R) unveiled plans on Monday to convert some of the shopping centre's unused units and car park spaces to cater for the digital services industry.
Uses would include neighbourhood 'NBRHD' kitchens for online restaurant services, an urban farm for growing crops, as well as storage, logistics and vehicle hire facilities.
C&R announced US technology firm REEF as its partner for the project. REEF already has a significant presence in the US and Canada, operating in more than 200 large towns and cities.
Regarding its plans for Luton's The Mall, a C&R spokesman said: "It’s too early to give an exact timetable but we would expect the first changes within a year, starting with the management of the car park and then adding the additional uses."
Planning applications for change of use are also likely to be required for some parts of the transformation project.
C&R added: "In terms of planning, we will discuss this with the council’s planning department once we have a firmer timetable in place. But we expect there to be some requirement."
Luton Borough Council has given a tentative nod for the proposals, which are still in their early stages.
A LBC spokesman said: “As Luton recovers from the wide-ranging and devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we welcome innovative initiatives to help support the local economy, particularly the retail sector, and provide jobs.
"These objectives are embedded in our Luton 2020-2040 Vision, where everyone should thrive and no one should live in poverty.”