Long-awaited improvements at Luton Railway Station including new footbridge and lifts move a step closer

Luton train station. Picture: Tony MargiocchiLuton train station. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Luton train station. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Planning application submitted to borough council

Plans are a step closer for the long-awaited modernisation and access improvements at Luton Railway Station.

The project would provide a new footbridge, lifts and staircases at the Station Road site.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A request for prior approval for the works was submitted to Luton Borough Council last week. This process involves a formal application to the local planning authority to establish that specific parts of a development are acceptable before work begins.

All the necessary details for the council to decide whether the application complies with permitted development legislation have to be provided, including plans, drawings and any other supporting information.

The local authority considers their likely impact on matters such as highways and transport, and how to mitigate against these. LBC can refuse the proposals or ask for extra material to be submitted.

Progress on the scheme has been slow, after a review over funding the work scheduled to take place in the summer of 2020 was delayed inevitably by the pandemic. But calls for action to prevent regular flooding issues and provide disabled access to platforms date back much longer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meetings have taken place since, but the plans appeared to be hitting the buffers. Now it seems there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

The borough council has held meetings with Govia Thameslink Railway, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail to discuss design and funding issues. And the issue has been raised in Parliament by the town’s Labour MPs in an attempt to get the development back on track.

Former councillor and deputy leader of the local authority Sian Goding warned two years ago: “The wheels turn very slowly. Trains are supposed to move fast. Rail companies don’t.”

At that time, she said the whole group were aiming to deliver the works for an initial phase by the end of March this year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But regarding a more significant revamp we want to see a better station as a whole, not just the access to the platforms,” she explained. “I think everyone has seen the videos or been there when the rain has been pouring on their head and the grotty stairs. People know what that station is like. There’s the cost of it and the complexity of it, which is quite a big barrier for us. It will require suitable funding sources and agreement from relevant key stakeholders.”

The council provisionally approved a £2m contribution towards the station redevelopment, its executive was told in January 2020. The DfT indicated it would contribute £5m through the Access for All (AfA) fund.

With £2m more likely via other funds within Network Rail and Govia Thameslink, about £1.8m was still to be allocated at that stage, although costs are likely to have spiralled which may impact the scope of the scheme.

The council’s development management committee is expected to review the prior approval request in due course.