Beds, Herts & Bucks

Delays to Luton Town stadium decision 'unfathomable'

The plan for the new stadium Image copyright 2020developments.
Image caption The plan for the 23,000 capacity stadium is on the site of a former power station at Power Court in the centre of Luton

A football club chief executive said it was "unfathomable" that a decision over a proposed stadium, of up to 23,000 seats, has taken so long.

Luton Town Football Club submitted a planning application to Luton Borough Council in August 2016.

Writing in the club programme, Gary Sweet said the delay to the proposed Power Court development was "costly" to the club.

The council said it was working to "ensure the issues are resolved".

The football club is waiting to see if it can build the stadium, 550 apartments, bars, restaurants, a 1,800-capacity live venue, hotel and car park on the Power Court site.

Image copyright Luton Town Football Club
Image caption The comments by Gary Sweet featured in the official Luton Town Football club programme

Mr Sweet said the club's sister company, 2020 Development, was attending "an important global property exhibition" in Cannes in March.

"We have politely asked the council to be mindful of the fact that visiting Cannes at great expense without having a planning decision after 20 months of consideration will create a not insignificant delay in progressing with the project.

"I am beginning to find it unfathomable how something so positive and already so detailed upon submission can take so long.

"It will be incredibly disappointing (and costly) if we were to miss this key timeframe."

A Luton Borough Council spokeswoman said they "completely understand and share some of the frustrations about the delays, many have been outside the control of the council and the club".

She said a funding assessment and a final technical report needs "to be reviewed by independent experts".

"We should be in a position at the end of April to announce the date of the special Development Control meeting where the applications will be considered," she said.

Image copyright 2020developments.
Image caption If the stadium is built it will start with a capacity of 17,500, but it is planned to expand to 23,000 if the club is promoted

The football club hopes to help fund the stadium project by developing a retail, leisure and office site called Newlands Park on land it owns near junction 10 of the M1.

That project also requires approval from Luton Borough Council.

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