Plans for 272 flats in High Town hailed as 'one of the finest housing schemes' in Luton

A former milk depot in Luton will be transformed into "one of the finest housing schemes" in the town by providing 272 flats, a meeting heard.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 10:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 10:34 am
An artists' rendition of the proposed scheme for 272 flats
An artists' rendition of the proposed scheme for 272 flats

A former milk depot in Luton is to benefit from "one of the finest housing schemes" providing 272 flats, a meeting heard.

The project at 4-11 Burr Street involves demolishing buildings on brownfield land.

Applicant Coalition Land's scheme consists of four five- to 11-storey buildings, with parking and cycle storage.

Commercial buildings will be demolished on the current site at Burr Street

Previous proposals for 179 apartments on the site were deferred, an appeal lost over non-determination by the borough council, and then revised plans for 169 properties approved.

But further talks took place to consider better use of all the land, leading to a new application which has been approved by the borough council's development management committee.

The 1.4-acre High Town site is currently occupied by industrial and commercial buildings, which include the Bedfordian Business School, Fountain House Chapel, a vehicle MOT and servicing depot, and a hand car wash facility.

Principal planning officer Graham Dore told the committee: "It's a blend of flats and duplexes, similar to town houses.

A bird's-eye view of the proposed scheme on Burr Street

"The mix of housing is considered strong regarding the borough's needs," he explained.

"There are seven affordable units, all three-bedroom town houses. It will provide a quality living environment for future occupiers."

Objector Russell Cartwright said: "I welcome the development of this area of High Town with some residential accommodation.

"This has remained underused for too long. This site is the former milk bottling plant and depot.

"But the scheme contains buildings of an inappropriate height for the area, with one of the blocks reaching 11 stories."

Residential property developer and real estate fund manager Damien Kearsley, for the applicant, said: "We've secured planning permission for 169 homes on this site already.

"There's permission for five stories at the High Town Road end, so we're not going any higher with the new application.

"We've been encouraged to bring forward these proposals to make best use of the site.

"This is an extremely large site and low density housing would never be delivered because the build costs are incredibly high.

"It would just remain as MOT garages let out to people selling cars," he added.

"As well as delivering the much-needed homes and family housing we're ensuring it's eco-friendly.

"The new project has one less building which results in a much better layout. Many of the homes have private terraces and balconies.

"In design terms, it's one of the finest schemes in Luton. It will look fantastic in that location and help bring forward further development in that area."

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks said: "My view of the High Town area generally is that it's the last opportunity to build significant numbers of houses with gardens.

"In fact flats on this sites, fairly close to the town centre, are probably not a bad idea, as long as you can get the right mix of two-bed and three-bedroom flats, and we're not lumbered with loads of one-beds and studios.

"I prefer to see fewer one-bedroom flats in this development, but I can see the (financial) argument there.

"I'm hoping other prospective developers, such as the Power Court guys, will learn if you're going to have fairly high buildings anyway sticking an extra couple of stories on is probably worth doing.

"That's if it converts the viability to such an extent that you're getting a much better quality overall and more affordable housing, as well as the section 106 requirements."

Labour Dallow councillor Abbas Hussain agreed, saying: "We saw the original one in 2020 when they offered us nothing.

"They've added a few extra floors now and are providing a lot more this time round."