Following the sale of Newlands Park, tomorrow evening (Wednesday 5 January) we see yet another step along the road towards a better future for the people of Luton and the regeneration of the town.
As a consequence of the major changes to retail behaviour in the recent past and the impact of the pandemic on many businesses and working practices, 2020 Developments had submitted a revised planning application to Luton Council for Newlands Park.
There are substantive changes, as expected, with the emphasis now on ‘flexible commercial and business floorspace’. The development will, however, still have very significant benefits in terms of new jobs and its contribution to the local economy. The crucial commitment to a high-quality, visually appealing development continues to be emphasised. The planning committee will make their decision as to whether to approve these amendments at this meeting tomorrow.
Save Our Town have long argued that, due the location of this development, it plays a vital role in revitalising the image of our town. It is a true ‘gateway’ location; millions drive by it every year to and from the airport and motorway.
There will be an opportunity to use some of the space for an iconic piece of public art, something of scale that can be seen from the road and become a landmark and, who knows, maybe even a visitor attraction in its own right!
Public art can be highly contentious of course and certainly a matter for personal taste. Many towns and cities around the country have large-scale public art that becomes synonymous; Gateshead, for example. Save Our Town would advocate a piece that represents the heritage of the town, its reputation as a centre of manufacturing and engineering excellence, its ancient association with straw hat making and, more recently, aviation. We have a hugely cosmopolitan past and as a centre for well-paid work that drew people from all over the UK, the Republic of Ireland then subsequently the Commonwealth and Europe. These positives need to be recognised and celebrated, our kids have a right to be taught it and to understand it.
As important as history and heritage is, along with the present and the future, there is a need to project a positive and dynamic image and, vitally, to encourage investment and challenge our stereotype reputation.
We quite like the use of the Town crest and motto as a starting point together with the symbolic Griffin – for several reasons.
We welcome only positive/constructive thoughts and contributions to this discussion, what would you like to see at this new ‘gateway’ to our Town?
In the meantime, we eagerly await hearing of the approval to the necessary changes to Newlands Park.