Luton is faced with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regenerate our town centre with two major regeneration schemes at Power Court and Newlands Park.

Together they will transform our town boosting the local economy by £250million a year and creating 10000 new jobs. And importantly they will act as a catalyst for further regeneration.

The two schemes – from Luton Town Football Club’s property arm 2020 Developments Ltd – include a 17500-seat stadium a 1800-capacity music venue bars restaurants entertainment and leisure facilities prestige office space and high-end retail that does not currently exist in Luton.

However despite the overwhelming support – including a UK planning record 11000 people who wrote in support to the council at the consultation stage back in 2016 – these plans are being delayed by a legal challenge.

Capital & Regional the owners of The Mall shopping centre have applied by to the High Court for a judicial review which could scupper hopes of a bright new future for our town and cost Luton taxpayers up to £1million to defend in court.

With a General Election coming up on December 12 we have written to all the local candidates to become the Member of Parliament for both Luton South and Luton North asking for their stance on these proposals.

We are a strictly apolitical community group so we will publish one unedited response per day released in the order they were received by us. Here is Gavin Shuker, an independent candidate for Luton South…

Gavin Shuker (left) talks with Luton Town FC chief executive Gary Sweet

Gavin Shuker (left) talks with Luton Town FC chief executive Gary Sweet

A new stadium at Power Court, is overwhelmingly in the interests of the people of Luton. Capital and Regional’s judicial review against a decision made fairly and democratically by our local representatives will, whatever justification they seek to provide, be seen for what it is: an attempt to put their shareholders’ profit ahead of the broader prosperity of the people I’ve represented for nearly ten years as a local Member of Parliament.

Attempting to further block the enabling development at Newlands Park endangers ambitious proposals for our town centre. The need for regeneration in the heart of our town, finding a positive use for the present, unsightly, Power Court is obvious. Their actions hinder the redevelopment of Kenilworth Road in Bury Park and delays the creation of much-needed housing. This has a direct effect on some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Sadly, privately driven investment in our town centre has long been in short supply, and, I’m afraid, there is no greater example of this than that of The Mall, the development that Capital and Regional have direct responsibility for. By delivering high-quality shops and services in the centre of town, as I believe this proposal will do, that investment delivers benefits for all.

I will continue to use all avenues available to me, including in Parliament (if re-elected), to ensure that the voice of Luton’s hundreds-of-thousands of residents are not drowned out by those of Capital and Regional’s shareholders.