#saveourtown has called on the CEO of Capital & Regional’s new majority shareholders to ‘make his mark’ and ‘put right a serious wrong’ in Luton over the retail group’s bid to stifle regeneration.
The owners of The Mall shopping centre were last month taken over by South African property group Growthpoint, who now own a 52 per cent controlling stake in a company that has applied to the High Court for a judicial review of Luton Council’s decision to grant planning permission for Newlands Park.
There is now a wait for a judge to assess the application and either throw it out or approve a full hearing, but #saveourtown has urged Growthpoint supremo Estienne De Klerk to think again and stop fighting against the will of Lutonians.
Andy King, vice chairman of #saveourtown, said: “These new guys (Growthpoint) have taken over. They’ve got an opportunity to put right a serious wrong in this town and we call upon them to do that.
“We call upon their CEO to make his mark, make a difference, make a statement.”
Saturday saw local people from all areas of the community come together outside The Mall in St George’s Square in a peaceful protest at the legal bid that could scupper 2020 Developments’ major regeneration plans.
#saveourtown has poured through Capital & Regional’s annual report and found a section relating to Newlands Park, which states: ‘A section of the local community principally associated with Luton Town Football Club has characterised our objection to the retail element of Newlands Park scheme as C&R acting in a way that is contrary to the will of the community of Luton Borough.
‘We are clear this is not the case. Rather it is a technical planning dispute which does not compromise our support and commitment to the community as a whole.’
King responded, saying: “There were a whole raft of people down here (at the demonstration), not just football people, but the supporters’ groups were well represented. We were there supporting them and there were quite a lot of ordinary Lutonians going about their business, so it was a very good response.
“The comments in the prospectus document, when they were recently taken over, and in their annual report are misleading and disingenuous, quite frankly.
“The support (for Newlands Park and Power Court) is across the entire town, in all communities, and the irony of the whole thing is, as we’ve been saying for a long, long time, is that the total regeneration package will only benefit The Mall, simple as.”
If the High Court judge approves a full judicial hearing, then it is estimated that for Luton Council to defend their decision could cost local taxpayers up to £1million.
King said: “You’ve got to have some sort of confidence in the legal system. The council are very clear that they’ve put together documentation that is watertight, as are 2020.
“Frankly, some of the things they (C&R) are planning to object on are just spurious. There’s supposed to be an issue with the viewpoint from Luton Hoo. Well, the view from Luton Hoo to junction 10 is an absolute nonsense, talk about clutching at straws.”