Hatters CEO confirms Power Court and Newlands Park plans are 'progressing well' despite 'significant rethink'

Sweet gives the latest update on new stadium

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 5:18 pm
Luton Town's planned new ground at Power Court - pic: Leslie Jones Architecture
Luton Town's planned new ground at Power Court - pic: Leslie Jones Architecture

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet has confirmed that plans for a new home at Power Court are ‘progressing well’ despite the club being forced into a ‘significant rethink’ by the recent Coranavirus pandemic.

The Hatters were given permission to build their 17,500 all-seater stadium back in January 2019, along with a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park just two months later, which is essential to finance the construction of the new ground.

However, any attempts to begin putting spades in the ground were hit significantly by the global pandemic which forced the suspension of the football season and meant last campaign was played without supporters present, seriously affecting the club's finances.

Sweet confirmed in March 2020 that the plans were on hold, while a lack of match-day income, plus a change in consumer behaviour had led to a redesign of the stadium and changes at Newlands Park too.

2020 Developments, the property arm of the Hatters, then stated in December that they had set a target of playing their first game at Power Court was 2024, while the Hatters also revealed in March of this year that they would be looking to submit final plans this month with the aim of beginning initial work on site later this year.

Writing in his programme notes before Saturday’s goalless draw against Sheffield United, Sweet gave the latest update, as he said: “As mentioned before, the single, most common question I get asked is ‘How’s the new stadium coming along?”, especially of late when we’ve had to cope with a hugely changing environment after global pandemics, potential economic crises and massive shifts in consumer behaviour has forced a significant rethink on much of what we’re seeking to develop according to market demand.

“To ease your mind, despite all this, I can confirm that development plans for our new stadium at Power Court are progressing well and, despite a small hitch in time and some nominal compromises, is all on track.

“Being able to fund the construction of the stadium is paramount in our mind, of course - we simply cannot build if we haven't got the money and, with costs on the rise, it isn’t loose change that’s going to make it happen.

“The principle of funding deriving from our facility developments at Power Court and Newlands Park categorically remains and I can inform you that we are making good progress on this front to the extent that we are in the process of concluding our first (of many I hasten to add) freehold sale of one small plot of land to partner developers and future neighbours.

“With our positive progress on other partnership prospects and having painstakingly scrutinised over a redesign of the stadium and surrounding public realm (a necessity brought about by the a global pandemic and behavioural change), we are now just about to embark upon a detailed planning stage for those elements.

“Whilst not the lengthy process our outline stage took, it largely is what it says on the tin - a very detailed design - and needs to be done fully and properly to ensure that we get the design right, don’t overspend, and save time and efficiency in construction.

“I’ll provide more updates as we progress this process but suffice to say that it really is an exciting phase of advancement as we study the various possible access routes, assignments of entrances, concourses, hospitality areas, players’ tunnel and back of house amenities as well as strategies for riverbanks and cycle-paths and placements of new sub-stations and smart car parks.

“So as we draw closer to the reality of our much long-awaited relocation, please savour every minute you can at our current home, starting today.”