'White elephant' park and ride at Luton business park blasted as 'utter waste of time'

Plans for the park and ride at Butterfield Green approved
Butterfield Business Park Luton. Picture: Google MapsButterfield Business Park Luton. Picture: Google Maps
Butterfield Business Park Luton. Picture: Google Maps

A park and ride facility at Butterfield Green in Luton would be “an utter waste of time” and is unlikely to prevent local roads being gridlocked, a meeting heard.

Branding the borough council’s plans “a white elephant”, a feasibility report “defies logic”, warned Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor David Wynn.

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The local authority wants to build the park and ride on two-and-a-half acres of land at Great Marlings, with an office, parking bays, access and landscaping, according to a report to its development management committee.

Of the 338 spaces, 285 accommodate standard car parking, 32 are for electric vehicle charging, with 17 disabled parking bays, and four parent and child spaces, said the report. “Two bus stop areas with shelters would be built, while shelters will also cover motorbike and cycle spaces.

“The facility was permitted under the original outline planning application for the Butterfield Business Park. This land is one of its remaining undeveloped plots, accessed via the A505 Hitchin Road.

LBC’s planning team leader Clive Inwards said: “It’s been agreed with the applicant the park and ride would only operate from 7am to 10pm to avoid any adverse impact on the Hilton Garden Inn Luton North or nearby business uses.

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“The size of the facility would be financially self-sufficient and suitably cater for demand. Jobs would be provided during construction and operation to support sustainable economic growth.”

Councillor Wynn described the report as “defying logic”, saying: “It’s alleging to get vehicles off the road heading to central Luton.

“These buses don’t visit the airport. They travel into the central terminus, which isn’t where most people want to be. Who’s going to use this park and ride?” he asked.

“Nobody is going to wait for a bus at Butterfield Green wanting to get into Luton. It won’t be used by football crowds or by the extent that’s suggested in the report.

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“What an enormous and utter waste of time, pushing coaches every 20 minutes down roads which are already gridlocked. That won’t be eased by a few cars going into the park and ride.

“It’s a route to a complete white elephant, which will only be to the detriment of the local community.”

Asked if the site would be used for airport parking, LBC’s highways and transport projects service manager Steve Lain replied: “It’s only intended for daily parking, not for holiday use.

“We’ll have a penalty charge for someone stopping excessively long there. Three shuttle buses will run, initially on a demand basis. We’ll increase that as needs be. It’s not our intention to have a 20-minute wait.

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“As part of the Department for Transport funding, we’ll be buying three buses for one of the local operators to provide the drivers and the service we require.”

Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor, who chairs the committee, said: “There’ll be some difficulties and I do have my doubts about it, as I can’t see any dedicated bus lanes around the town to serve this.”

Councillors approved the plans, with six votes in favour and three against.

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