Luton Town's revised Newlands Park scheme is approved by council

"The overall scheme would create many jobs"

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 9:37 am
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 9:43 am
Newlands Park: PIC Leslie Jones Architecture

A revised prestigious gateway project on 40 acres of land close to junction ten of the M1 motorway at Luton has been approved.

Two mixed use development schemes were submitted by applicant 2020 Developments (Luton) for the north and south of the Newlands Park site.

The plans were considered separately by the borough council's development management committee last night (Wednesday, January 26) and included environmental impact assessments.

The north plot of land is for commercial, business and service uses (including retail and leisure floorspace), flexible commercial and business floorspace and parking.

And the south features a flexible commercial and business floorspace (including office floorspace), public art and/or a gateway feature, and parking.

It was revealed last month 2020 Developments (Luton) had struck a deal with an investment fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI) and the UK developer Wrenbridge for the development.

Outline planning permission for the site was granted previously by the committee in September 2019.

But Luton Town Football Club's property arm and applicant 2020 Developments has since reviewed the proposals to meet current market conditions following the pandemic. The applications featured less space for retail and leisure as a result.

The Hatters originally described the Newlands Park project as the enabling development for the club's Power Court stadium plans in the town centre.

Planning consultant David Hall told the committee: "The rationale for the proposals maintains the claw back of trade leaking from Luton to other centres and the economic benefits a development of this scale will bring, creating employment and generating local economic stimulus.

"It'll be necessary to ensure the delivery of the football stadium at Power Court to slab level, through a Section 106 obligation, before any part of the retail and leisure elements on this application site can be occupied," he said.

"The overall scheme would create many jobs and continue to ensure spending in the borough by visitors and residents would be maintained, aiding local economic activity and growth.

"It's considered the development could be accommodated within the local landscape with limited adverse effect on its wider character."

Michael Moran, 2020 Developments chief operating officer, said: "The intention is that the whole of Newlands Park is delivered in a single scheme.

"We split the application into two because we appreciate the retail elements had the potential to raise concerns.

"You'll recall there was a failed judicial review of the consent last time because of the retail floorspace.

"As we've explained previously the approval for Newlands Park is a key part of our ambition to deliver the new stadium at Power Court.

"On its own it doesn't guarantee it," he warned. "But together with the wider scheme of residential and facilities at Power Court, we've a plan that works to achieve that target."

The two planning applications were deferred earlier this month over late additions to the agenda to clear up objections raised by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Planning officers indicated these had been withdrawn the day before the meeting because CBC's issues were satisfactorily covered in the conditions outlined within the report.

Both applications are subject to Section 106 legal agreements being signed and referral to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.