Here is our consultation response to the two supplemental retail impact reports published by Luton Borough Council, regards Luton Town Football Club’s planning applications for Power Court and Newlands Park. The consultation ended on Tuesday.

Dear Sir,

Response to WYG Supplemental Retail Appraisal Report (July 1018) and Chase & Partners Supplemental Report 15-7-18)

The #saveourtown campaign is a community-led initiative that is independent, non-political and run by volunteers who aim to promote the benefits of the 2020 Developments Ltd plans for Power Court and Newlands Park – proposals that are essential to much needed regeneration of Luton.

The committee of #saveourtown can legitimately claim to speak for the vast majority of the people of Luton. Over the last few months we have reached out to businesses, communities and residents and their response to the plans, and to our campaign, on conventional and social media and through face-to-face contact, has been overwhelmingly positive and humbling.

When the original plans for Power Court and Newlands Park were revealed by 2020 Developments Ltd., over 2 years ago, an unprecedented 11,000 people felt compelled to write letters and messages of support to the council. Their voices must not be forgotten and our campaign aims to ensure that they are not silenced.

Our committee has considered both the Chase & Partners and WYG impact supplemental assessment reports and we note that both are positive in their conclusions. It is obvious that the impacts of the proposals will be negligible to any business operating in the town centre, which effectively means The Mall.

WYG conclude that the proposed developments are unlikely to have significant adverse effects on our neighbours in Dunstable, nor will they negatively impact any other proposed investments in Luton. Furthermore, they say that both applications will attract significant future investment in Luton. #saveourtown strongly believe that the dual project will act as a substantial catalyst for more regeneration and investment in Luton in future years.

Critically, we also note that both Chase & Partners and WYG have acknowledged and commented on the existence of a Permitted User List and an Exclusion List. This is to ensure that Newlands Park is a substantially differentiated ‘high-end’ retail offering (66% aspirational brands) – when compared to the town centre – and that ‘poaching’ of retailers to Newlands Park from The Mall is avoided. Some concerns over the enforceability of such mechanisms has been expressed, but our clear understanding is that 2020 Developments Ltd has volunteered a contract, through a Section 106 conditional notice, that will enable the Council, through the Planning Department and planning process, to control the type of retailer that could operate out of Newlands Park in the first instance and in the future. Deviation from these lists (or type of permitted retailer) would enable interested parties to use the planning process and mechanisms to challenge such decisions. There is precedent for such ‘protective conditions’, albeit not on this scale, and our planning advice has confirmed that such an agreement is legally enforceable as described.

C&P have noted that there is sufficient interest and demand from luxury and aspirational retailers for the plans for Newlands Park to be realised and that there is no discernible crossover between retailers already based in Luton and others that may choose to take up positions in the new developments. There is NO overlap between the aspirational retailers likely to be located at Newlands Park and the “must have” and “non-discretionary” retailers of The Mall.

Both developments will retain much of the expenditure within the town that currently leaks to surrounding areas.

Our conclusion is unequivocal. Any possible negative impact on the town centre from Newlands Park alone is likely to be a very low single percentage figure – perhaps 1.7% – 3%. There can be no doubt whatsoever, that when the positive impact of the Power Court development, together with 10,000 new jobs and £250m annual improvement to the local and regional economy is considered, the net result will be a substantial positive impact on town centre retailers. The positive impact will be further enhanced by the catalyst created by Newlands Park and Power Court for future developments and investment.

We therefore commend the 16/01401 and 16/01400 proposals to Luton Borough Council and urge planning approval be passed at the very earliest opportunity.

Nigel Green
#saveourtown Campaign