Luton Town unveil timelines for both Power Court and Newlands Park

Work to begin later on site for new stadium later this year

Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:10 am
An impression of how Power Court could look - pic: Leslie Jones Architecture

Luton Town and 2020 Developments have unveiled their timelines for work to start on both of their planning applications for a new stadium at Power Court and mixed use scheme at Newlands Park.

The Hatters have confirmed that revised applications for Power Court and Newlands Park will be submitted in April/May, with the announcement of initial partner development following a month later.

Detailed plans for the new stadium, to start at a capacity of 17,500, although could increase to 23,000, will be made public in the summer, while initial works at Power Court will start later this year.

The initial phases of development at Power Court and Newlands Park are to be completed in 2022, as the Hatters intend to play their opening match at the new Power Court Stadium in 2024.

A statement on the club's official website said: "In terms of our stadium plans we are working within the original planning permission to bring forward a final and detailed design for our club’s new home.

"In addition to the stadium itself the central area of the site will include a mix of food and beverage, retail, business, and community space such that it will be a hive of activity on non-match days.

"We believe this is critical to making Power Court a genuinely thriving new quarter for the town centre.

"Our core objective remains to deliver a truly great new stadium and home for Luton Town FC.

"The intended capacity remains set at 23,000 (with potentially an initial cap at 17,500 for transport assessment reasons) and a target opening date in 2024.

"By taking control of its own future the club can ensure the new stadium is not burdened by external debt.

"Just as importantly we can help to shape a vision that is transformative for our local community and delivers real and tangible benefits for the people of Luton."

The club have also confirmed a number of alterations for their plans at Power Court which focuses on changes to the West and East ends of the site.

That includes making the walk from the town centre easier, allowing the site to make use of the River Lea, while keeping St Mary's Church as a key feature and increasing the number of residential units to approximately 1,200.

The statement continued: "By dropping the original vision of steps up to a podium we can now make use of the River Lea that is currently culverted through the centre of the site in its natural route.

"The new plans see the river brought back to life and made into a feature that will add character and a cultural identity to the piazza space at the heart of Power Court.

"St Mary’s Church remains a key feature in our design thinking.

"With the removal of the podium at the West End of the site we reduce the mass of the buildings by a considerable margin.

"We are also now able to open-up the site to allow greater access from St Mary’s Road.

"In the original plans for Power Court, we proposed relocating the River Lea to run down St Mary’s Road.

"With further work investigations we feel this is unviable and simply does not work.

"Instead, we want to work with the Council and our neighbours to reduce traffic on St Mary’s Road and introduce green space and a high-quality public realm.

"We are currently engaged with Historic England in a formal process to gain their feedback and support for our evolving stadium design (with particular focus on the St Mary’s Road frontage).

"As this process continues through the year, we will be in a position to engage with supporters and wider stakeholders."

The club have also reiterated that a mixed use scheme Newlands Park is crucial to finance the new ground, but that focus has now shifted away from a 'retail and leisure led scheme to one with a broader mix of uses to include business space, research and development, distribution and office uses,' although some retail space at a much lower scale is still planned.

The statement said: "Newlands Park continues to play an essential role in our plans and its contribution to the local economy is also incredibly important.

"At a time of wider economic uncertainty, we are seeking to deliver the type of flexible commercial space that successful companies are demanding but without compromise on environmental standards.

"The potential of the site is unmistakable with its ability to deliver approximately 4,000 new jobs and a contribution of some £240m each year to the Luton economy.

"We will still seek to deliver retail space, but it will be of a much lower scale than previously planned but still retaining its aspiration.

"To facilitate the planning process, we have split the Newlands Park site into a West and an East (either side of Newlands Road) and we hope both will be considered alongside our vision for Power Court.

"Ultimately our position remains the same in that a stadium at Power Court will not come forward without Newlands Park."

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has also altered Town's original plans for the development, as the statement added: "Structural changes in the way the UK consumer shops, works and plays has required a revision to scheme plans originally conceived in 2015/2016 prior to submission of original planning applications.

"The Coronavirus pandemic has generally served to accelerate these structural changes.

"Our challenge has been to ensure our vision for both sites remains viable and deliverable.

"Several changes were already being considered by the development team ahead of any impact from Covid-19.

"This is standard for any development between early stages of the process.

"We have been delighted so far at the response from the market and businesses wanting to work with us and make our plans a reality.

"Our consideration of who to work with is incredibly important and we will shortly be able to announce partnerships with sector specialists in residential and commercial development."