Graffiti wall set to be part of prominent Luton office building revamp

Office and commercial space planned as well as flats at King Street site

By Euan Duncan
Monday, 10th January 2022, 11:26 am

A graffiti wall is set to be a feature of a Luton town centre redevelopment project.

It will be part of a revamp of a prominent 1970s office building which fronts on to King Street.

The exact design will be subject to scrutiny from borough council planning officers, a January 5 meeting of its development management committee was told.

An example of street art at Power Court (ARCHIVE IMAGE)

Plans were submitted for a three-storey front extension, with a three- and six-storey extension at the back and an extra storey to provide nine flats at King House on George Street West and 13 to 15 King Street.

The proposals include extra office and commercial accommodation, as well as external alterations to the building, according to a report to the committee.

There will be three three-bedroom, four two-bed and two one-bedroom apartments, said the report.

Planning officer Naila Malik explained: "The application site is a 1970s office building which fronts on to King Street.

"Its height ranges from two to seven stories. It's one of the tallest buildings in this stretch of the town centre within the conservation area.

"By extending and modernising office accommodation within the building it will help provide much-needed modern office space in the town centre. The commercial uses will be retained on the ground floor.

"The current building is of poor design and appearance and makes little contribution to the character of the town centre conservation area.

"It also seeks a graffiti wall at the back which introduces a new visual feature in the area.

"A suitably worded condition will feature further details of this wall and its long-term maintenance," she added.

"No adverse impact is anticipated on the surrounding commercial premises and no objections have been received.

"The scheme creates an acceptable living environment for the future occupiers of the flats, and provides much-needed family housing and modern office space, while improving the building's appearance."

Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor, who chairs the committee, asked how the graffiti wall can benefit the area.

"The graffiti wall just adds to it," she replied. "At the moment you've a bland frontage with nothing but a wall.

"If something's put on it, that provides a little more interest than just a blank wall."

Councillor Taylor responded: "I think it's subjective." She said: "Design is always subjective."

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks said: "I've looked at this building many times. I find it impossible to imagine anything you could do the exterior which wouldn't improve it."

Town mayor and Labour Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain agreed, saying: "Anything would enhance that building. As for the wall, we've fantastic graffiti artists who've done a good job near the Market Square.

"We could encourage those young people to do that in King Street. They've done a marvellous job and we're really impressed. And these are 12- and 13-year-olds."

Councillor Taylor recalled the work on a similar mural "on the underpass in Cumberland Street, which has been there for many years".

Labour Saints councillor Summara Khurshid said: "There are trees and green shrubs planned. It looks good and promising from the pictures."

Councillors unanimously approved the development.