Luton council reject Aldi planning application at Gipsy Lane

An artists impression of Luton Town's planned indoor facility
An artists impression of Luton Town's planned indoor facility

Luton Borough Council have rejected an application to build a new Aldi store on the former bowling green at Gipsy Lane.

The planning application was for a proposed demolition of a vacant building in Gipsy Lane and the building of a new food store on the site

The application was originally approved by the council's development control committee, but was referred to full council for a final decision yesterday evening, where the council chose to reject the decision.

Prior to the meeting, Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet sent an email to all councillors urging them to reject the application.

He wrote: "We write to reiterate our objection to the application for a new Aldi store on the former bowling green on Gipsy Lane.

"The application had been referred to Full Council as members – by a single casting vote - went against your officer’s recommendation to refuse this application as it is contrary to planning policy.

"This application should be refused because the proposed supermarket is in the wrong location.

"In particular: The supermarket should be delivered at Power Court; and The former bowling green should be used for leisure.

"Developing a supermarket so close to Power Court will make it much harder for us to deliver a new supermarket as part of our mixed-use stadium scheme.

"Power Court is a sequentially preferable site and it is allocated for a food store in the current Local Plan.

"In the current retail market, if Aldi go to Gipsy Lane, we will struggle to get another operator at Power Court.

"The application site is a leisure site and it should remain as a leisure use.

"Luton Town Football Club wish to and have the capability to acquire this site at an agreeable or market rate from Venue 360.

"We have submitted a pre-application for a sports dome on the application site and look forward to discussing the proposal with officers.

"Such an indoor facility would not only help deliver the Club's ambitions for its elite academy by elevating its status within the game – akin to the level of the first team.

"Indeed, crucially, in-line with youth academy criteria, without an indoor training facility, Luton Town Football Club would not be able to elevate to a Category 2 status and, therefore, would not be able to compete in an under 23 games programme which would be essential for the Club to develop its younger players and to recruit new young players.

"Essentially, it is fundamental to our continued progress and would make retention of our Championship status, for the longer term, almost impossible.

"However, not only would this facility benefit our academy, we will also ensure this remains in leisure use by providing access for community and schools usage thus increasing access to high quality sports usage in our town for the benefit of all.

"As you know, The Brache and Luton Hoo have been chosen as a site to host teams for the European Championships next year.

"The opportunity of the European Championships will have significant economic benefits for Luton and assist in transforming the town’s reputation.

"Additionally, by retaining and enhancing this site for sports facilities, The Brache would also cement its place for regular training camps in the future, in partnership with Luton Hoo.

"Shoehorning an Aldi store into this key gateway will detract from the world class facility at The Brache.

"We believe this is simply a question of deciding on correct land uses – in line with Local Plan policy and in line with common sense; that is for a supermarket at Power Court and a sports facility on sports fields at Gipsy Lane.

"We therefore ask that you respect your officer’s recommendation to refuse this application. "