#saveourtown say that councillors have tonight ‘etched themselves into Luton folklore’ after approving the major regeneration application for Newlands Park.Cheers, tears and hugs broke out in the Town Hall chamber as members of the Development Control Committee approved the planning application for the mixed-use site by junction 10 of the M1 motorway.
It was the second major planning application from 2020 Developments – the property arm of Luton Town Football Club – approved this year after Power Court was given the green light in January.
But though that decision assured the town of planning permission for a new 17,500-seat football stadium, an 1,800-capacity music venue, bars, restaurants, leisure, entertainment and more, tonight’s Newlands Park decision was crucial for the delivery of such major transformation, at no cost to the taxpayer.
The town is now set to benefit from an annual £250million boost to the local economy and 10,000 new jobs.
It was a verdict that has been more than two-and-a-half years in the making, due to major opposition from Capital & Regional, the owners of The Mall shopping centre.However, no representatives of the London-based retail group were in attendance at the Town Hall and they instead sent a letter to be read out, in which they claimed ‘three facts and three fallacies’ critical to the decision. It mattered little as all but Limbury councillor Stephen Lewis voted in favour of the application, while Cllr Gilbert Campbell (Bramingham) abstained.
Nigel Green chairman of #saveourtown said: “Tonight’s Newlands Park decision marks a major milestone in the history of Luton that future generations can look back upon with pride as being a moment that signalled a change in our town’s destiny.
“We salute the Luton Borough Council officers and members for listening to the wishes of Lutonians. They had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote for the major transformation and improvement of our town and they have grabbed it with both hands.
“We’ve said previously that those in the corridors of power would forever have their legacies shaped by the outcome of the Power Court and Newlands Park applications, such is the unprecedented support from Lutonians. We’ve no doubt that they have now etched themselves into Luton folklore for all the right reasons.
“This decision has been a long time coming, but it has been so worth the wait. It’s what we have been campaigning for, it’s what we have dreamed of and we are elated by the verdict. It’s a time for huge celebration and it’s no more than Luton deserves.
“On this historic evening I would like to personally thank all of the volunteer #saveourtown committee members for the tremendous amount of effort they have all put into our campaign so far, with many personal sacrifices along the way.
“I would also like to express unending thanks to every single Lutonian and #saveourtown supporter, near and far. Every message and word of encouragement has meant more than you could ever know and we are proud to represent you.
“You are the people that make this town what it is and it’s only right that Luton itself can now begin to reflect you in a more positive light, as we move towards a bright new future – but we are not there yet.
“To quote a famous speech, ‘This is not the end, it may not even be the beginning of the end, but it could certainly be the end of the beginning’.
“The changes that have been approved tonight may yet take years to be realised, but they are only part of the transformation tale.
“As the town changes so must we, as Lutonians. That means collectively striving we build ourselves up.
“Make no mistake, this decision is a new dawn and, for #saveourtown, we’re just getting started.”