Plans for former Vauxhall site near Luton given green light to continue - creating up to 1,500 new jobs
A development expected to generate around 1,500 jobs on the outskirts of Luton can continue, after changes to six of the original planning conditions.
Applicant Goodman Logistics Developments (UK) Limited has demolished the warehouse building, previously used for the storage and distribution of automotive parts by Vauxhall Aftersales, off Luton Road at Chalton.
The company intends to redevelop the 58-acre site to provide flexible industrial, storage and distribution uses, with an access and parking, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.
“The land was occupied by a large three-storey warehouse and several other buildings, including offices,” said the report. “As part of the restructuring of vehicle manufacturer Vauxhall Motors Limited’s operations, this facility has closed.
“Although mainly in Central Bedfordshire, a small area of just over three acres lies within Luton borough. An application was submitted to vary six conditions of the outline plans.”
Planning officer Peter Vosper explained: “Conditional planning permission was granted for the demolition of the former buildings and site redevelopment to provide 116,000sqm for industrial storage and distribution uses.
“The amended floorspace area involves an increase to 134,549sqm, rising by 18,549sqm, of which 65,000sqm is identified as a data centre.
“An amended height parameter with a 1m increase is for discreet elements only, such as individual pieces of equipment or building features.
“There are relocated, upgraded and new bus stops on Luton Road, with a proposed connection to the national cycle network in Luton borough.
“Chalton Parish Council is concerned about the proposed data centre use, such as noise from cooling plants and back up generators.
“The size of floorspace occupied by this won’t be known until the reserved matters stage of the planning process.”
Simon Flisher, for the applicant said: “We assessed about 1,500 jobs would be envisaged across the site, in the original outline planning application.
“There’s no specific occupier identified for the data centre, but these have a lower employment density and can provide a different mix of jobs with skilled technical roles.
“This is brownfield land next to other industrial uses, with good access for commercial traffic without impacting on local residents, as well as the right area to attract a local workforce.
“We’ve removed the large old warehouse building, which had come to the end of its life, and have a prepared development area ready for a new building.
“We’ve had interest from data centre operators. The application asks for a mezzanine floorspace to be formed within the data centre phase. This will generate fewer vehicle movements than other types of storage and distribution.
“We’re in talks with various potential occupiers for the southern area and are nearly ready to submit a reserved matters application for four commercial buildings, in a mix of sizes.
“These will be high specification premises, which can accommodate a full range of industrial and commercial business activities,” he added.
“This would provide the basis to move on to the next stage of more detailed plans.”
Councillors approved the variation request, with ten votes in favour and one abstention.