Decision this time around on Luton Town's revised Newlands Park plans?

Councillors delayed vote earlier this month despite objections from Central Beds Council being withdrawn

By Euan Duncan
Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:39 pm
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:40 pm

Revised plans for a 40-acre mixed use development near the M1 at Luton are recommended for approval as the project is set to return to committee this week.

Applicant 2020 Developments (Luton) submitted schemes for the north and south of the Newlands Park site to the borough council.

But the two planning applications were deferred earlier this month after late additions to the development management committee agenda.

Newlands Park... (c) Leslie Jones Architecture

These related to objections raised by Central Bedfordshire Council, which planning officers indicated had been withdrawn the day before the meeting.

Officers told councillors CBC's issues were satisfactorily covered in the planning conditions suggested.

It was revealed last month 2020 Developments had struck a deal with an investment fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI) and the UK developer Wrenbridge for the project by the M1 junction 10.

The Hatters' property arm reviewed the proposals to meet current market conditions, after the pandemic.

Newlands site 2022

Previously it was considered as the enabling development for the football club's Power Court stadium scheme in the town centre.

"The Newlands Park site is greenfield land bounded by the M1 and the A1081 New Airport Way, and about 350m away from the boundary of the Luton Hoo estate," according to a report to Wednesday's (Jan 26) meeting.

"It's been split into two planning applications to support the implementation of the scheme and to provide flexibility for delivery," said the report.

"The applicant's case is that the Newlands Park proposals will facilitate the redevelopment of Power Court for a mix of uses that will contribute significantly to the vitality, viability and diversity of the town centre.

"Power Court will be redeveloped to accommodate the new football stadium for Luton Town, together with a food store, leisure and entertainment facilities, as well as residential dwellings and offices.

"It's considered that through this application and Power Court, planned investment in Luton town centre will come forward rather than be jeopardised," added the report.

"Power Court will increase the prospects of the northern gateway, cultural quarter sites and other town centre regeneration schemes being delivered in the future."

A vote by the committee to defer the two applications was unanimous at its meeting on January 5. A 38-page late sheet was distributed to borough councillors just hours before the meeting which focused mainly on CBC's objections being withdrawn.

Councillors were unhappy with a lack of time to read through the updates relating to the Newlands Park project.

CBC was "concerned that the (latest) proposal isn't in accordance with the adopted (Luton) Local Plan", while the "change in uses would have a significant impact on the highway network, which hasn't been appropriately addressed", the report to the committee explained.

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

The revised schemes feature less space for retail and leisure, and include environmental impact assessments.

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

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

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