Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton Town's M1 Newlands Park project backed by council

Newlands Park Image copyright 2020developments
Image caption The development near junction 10 of the M1 will be a mixture of retail and leisure space

Plans to develop land next to junction 10 of the M1 to help pay for Luton Town's new stadium have been approved.

The Newlands Business Park will help finance the club's 23,000-capacity ground granted planning permission by Luton Borough Council in January.

The development will include leisure facilities and shops which had attracted objections from retailers in the town centre and nearby towns.

Planning committee councillors backed the scheme at a meeting on Monday.

The scheme at Newlands Park involves new bars, restaurants, a 1,800-capacity live venue, a hotel and car park, and 550 apartments.

The scheme was drawn up by 2020 Developments (Luton) Limited on behalf of Luton Football Club.

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

Newlands Park is south of Stockwood Park Golf Centre which is an Area of Local Landscape Importance as well as a county wildlife site.

To the south east is the Luton Hoo estate and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies to the west.

Fears were expressed at the planning meeting by environmentalists and existing retailers that the development would not be viable and could have a detrimental impact or could even deliver a fatal blow to Luton town centre.

However 2020 Developments said the scheme offered high quality office and retail space, new homes, 10,000 new jobs and improved transport.

The open spaces also offered environmental benefits and the scheme could only boost the town, it said.

Image copyright Luton Borough Council
Image caption The scheme for Newlands Park was carried after a three-hour debate by the planning committee

Gary Sweet, chief executive of 2020 Developments, said he wanted a football club and a town everyone could be proud of.

In a final report, planning officers said one limit was the retail floor space at the park could not be occupied until significant work on the stadium had been completed.

Council officers said the development was unlikely to have "significant adverse impact" on Luton, St Albans and Harpenden town centres.

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