Car free residential development approved for Luton town centre on former Honda site

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Car free residential development approved for Luton town centre on former Honda site under fresh application v.1

Parking has been omitted from a revised residential development on a former Honda vehicle showroom and repair garage in Luton town centre.

Applicant Merchant Taylor Cumberland Limited submitted outline plans for a 12-storey building with 207 apartments, an access and associated works on almost half an acre of land in Cumberland Street.

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The project includes 96 one-bedroom, 93 two-bed and 18 three-bedroom flats, according to a report to the borough council’s development management committee.

Ex Honda site in LutonEx Honda site in Luton
Ex Honda site in Luton

“The site has been cleared of all buildings and was used as a temporary car park for two years,” said the report. “It’s located north of the A505 Park Viaduct dual carriageway in the Castle Quarter.

Planning permission was granted previously for a nine-storey building with 154 apartments, access, parking and other works. This was for 73 one-bedroom, 71 two-bedroom and ten three-bedroom flats.

“The current scheme adopts the exact building footprint of the already agreed proposals, while typical residential floor levels are similar to those consented.

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“But this application differs with the infill of the garage parking at ground level and more bicycle storage, as well as the extra residential accommodation.

“All on site parking has been removed and a car free development is now planned. A lay-by is retained for deliveries in front of the building and to provide a drop off area for residents.

“Other amenities are 950sqm for private terraces and external communal amenity space through roof gardens,” added the report.

“Planning permission was granted for a hotel on the site in September 2017 for a five- to seven-storey building with 202 bedrooms, associated parking and leisure facilities.

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“Opposite the site, a mixed use development of 154 flats with retail and commercial units was approved at 1-11 Cumberland Street.

“This was in a building with two tower elements extending to eight and 12 storeys in height.”

Principal planning officer David Hall told the committee: “The extant permission was for a nine-storey block of flats. This differs by the increase in the number of floors,” he explained.

“It would make an important contribution to the regeneration of this part of the Castle Quarter, removing an unsightly piece of vacant land in a prominent location.

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“Job opportunities would be provided in the construction and operation of the building, which is of high quality by using a contemporary design and materials. This is a variation of a consent which already exists.”

LBC’s head of planning Sunny Sahadevan said: “Studies have shown that schemes which include parking spaces attract vehicles to be parked. Those developments which resist it change people’s behaviours and their modes of travel.

“This has been borne out as a council in making several decisions during the last few years where we’ve restricted parking within the town centre.

“The occupants know when they’re buying a flat or renting it in the town centre they won’t have access to a car park and they’re fine with that.

“We’re not aware of flats not being sold or anyone complaining about not being able to park their vehicle.”

Councillors approved the development with ten votes in favour and one against.