177 flats set to be built on former contaminated petrol station site in Luton town centre

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Revised plan for vacant town centre site approved by councillors

A vacant former petrol station site in Luton town centre, where 51,000 litres of petrol subsequently leaked out, has been decontaminated to enable 177 apartments to be built there, a meeting heard.

Luton-based applicant Merchant Taylor submitted revised full plans for the properties as part of a mixed-use redevelopment of just over half an acre of brownfield land at numbers two to 12 Guildford Street.

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The scheme includes two commercial units on the ground floor, amenity space and bicycle storage, according to a report to the borough council’s development management committee.

An artist's impression of the developmentAn artist's impression of the development
An artist's impression of the development

It features 70 one-bedroom flats, 94 two-bed apartments and 13 three-bedroom properties, with a central courtyard, said the report.

There are three blocks, one increasing from five to eight-stories in height, another from ten to 12 stories, while the other is a four-storey building.

Principal planning officer Graham Dore told the committee: “The project has been heavily revised from the application submitted last December.

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“All 177 flats would have access to the three generously proportioned roof terraces situated across the development,” he said.

“It’s a high quality design which would respect the surrounding historic Plaiters’ Lea conservation area setting and see the redevelopment of a long vacant and significantly harmful site.

“This continues to be detrimental to the character of a sensitive significant and highly sustainable location. There’s no parking provision.

“The scheme would provide a safe and attractive living environment for both individuals and families. Three representations were received about the original application a year ago, but none for the revised version.”

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Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor, who chairs the committee, said: “A former petrol station, it’s been a vacant brownfield site for more than 20 years.

“A considerable amount of fuel leaked out causing concerns. Is the site safe now?”

Director and founder of Benchmark Architects Mark Doohan explained: “We began the design process by talking to the Environment Agency to ensure the site could be developed without affecting the ground aquifer below, which was impacted by the contamination from the petrol station.

“In fairness, that was made safe to the standards back then. We’ve been monitoring the site during the last year. All of those details have been part of the application process.”

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Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks said: “The leakage was 51,000 litres of lead free petrol. What wasn’t done to put it right at the time was the issue, but apparently it’s been completed now.”

Labour South councillor David Agbley asked: “What was fully assessed, what was verified and what are the multiple conditions mentioned regarding the contamination?”

Mr Dore replied: “It’s part of a list of requirements for any application. It came with a desktop study, a phase two site investigation and a remediation strategy to get ahead of all the contamination issues.

“There’s a condition for unidentified contamination, anything which hasn’t been captured in the assessment, so all work stops, a further study is taken and remedial works planned.”

Councillors approved the development with eight votes in favour and two against.

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