2020 Developments insist Luton will still lose £200m to MK even if Newlands Park is approved

How a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park would look
How a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park would look

Luton's property arm 2020 Developments have revealed the town would still lose £200m to Milton Keynes even if a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park gets the go-ahead.

Members of Parliament, Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart, sent a joint letter to Luton Borough Council backing Milton Keynes Council’s objection to Newlands Park, even though their own shopping centre's landlords Intu Properties withdrew its concerns in October.

Their first objection was that the Newlands Park development may have underestimated the impact on Milton Keynes after failing to take into account the latest available empirical data from the Milton Keynes Council Retail Capacity and Leisure Study (MKRCLS) produced in March 2018

However, in a letter to Luton Borough council, 2020 Developments associate Steve McGrath said: “We have revisited the impact assessment submitted in our original Main Town Centre Uses (MTCU) Assessment in August 2016.

“Using the MKRCLS 2018 data, converted to 2012 prices and applying the trade diversion from our original MTCU Assessment, the impact on MKCC will increase from 1.9% to 2.4%.

“The Sensitivity Test in the MTCU Assessment (in which we increased the trade diversion from Luton Town Centre), shows the impact on MKCC will increase from 1.5% to 1.8%.

“Given the acknowledged vitality and viability of MKCC, we are confident that impacts of this magnitude will not be significantly adverse.

“Assuming that these developments do come forward, the impact will be virtually the same as in the original assessment (2% instead of 1.9%) and the same for the sensitivity test."

2020 have also recalculated the impact estimated by council consultants WYG, with it being 1.3% to 3% for a 100% 'high end' scheme and an unrestricted scenario as 0.8% to 2%.

The letter continued: "These are the ‘bookends’ between which WYG consider that the impact the scheme will fail.

“Again, impact levels of this magnitude will not have a significant adverse impact on the centre as strong as Milton Keynes.

“To put these figures into perspective, under all of the scenarios modelled by both Indigo and WYG, the trade diversion for MKCC to Newlands Park is less than one year’s growth in the city centre’s turnover.

“In reality, MKCC will still be taking much more trade from Luton’s catchment than Newlands Park will claw back.

“We estimate that Newlands Park will reduce the leakage from Luton by between 11% and 14% for Indigo’s assumptions and 11% and 17% for WYG’s assumptions.

“The leakage will still be in the order of £200m.

“Finally, it is relevant that neither WYG nor Chase and Partners raised any concerns about the impact of Newlands Park on MKCC because Milton Keynes is a very strong regional centre and it will continue to be so if the leakage is reduced from Luton’s catchment area.”

The second objection from Milton Keynes Borough Council states that if planning permission is granted, they want ‘LBC to impose a mechanism which links the delivery of the two planning application proposals (making sure Power Court is delivered).’

Responding to that, McGrath wrote: “In respect of the linking of the two applications, as you are aware, this will be assured through the s106 agreement.”

The Hatters will find out if their proposal for Newlands Park will be passed by councillors at a development control committee meeting on Monday, March 11.

They have already received planning permission for a new 17,500 stadium at Power Court.