Secretary of State James Brokenshire “will never have to buy a drink” in Luton again – that’s the view of campaign group #saveourtown after he approved the decision to grant planning permission for Newlands Park.
The decision yesterday not to call-in the mixed-use M1 junction 10 site for a public inquiry moved the major regeneration of the town a significant step closer after Luton Council gave it the green light last month.
A letter to the authority, confirming the decision from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), on behalf of the Secretary of State, said: ‘The Government is committed to give more power to council and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believe planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.’
Nigel Green, Chairman of campaign group #saveourtown, said: “We applaud the decision of the Secretary of State as it’s a common sense acknowledgment that Lutonians know what’s best for Luton.
“We’ve known for years that Newlands Park and Power Court will help revitalise our town, while acting also as a catalyst for further improvements.
“On two momentous occasions this year, our council has recognised the potential of both. Their dedication has been outstanding and has contributed to a sense that our town has come together over this.
“For the Secretary of State to give his seal of approval to the hopes and dreams of Luton is another massive vote of confidence for our town. He is welcome in Luton any time and we dare say, if he visits, he will never have to buy a drink here again.”
The option of a judicial review from objectors remains the only potential obstacle in the way of the development moving forwards and, once constructed, along with Power Court, generating £250million a year for the local economy and 10,000 new jobs.
First, 2020 Developments Ltd – the property arm of Luton Town Football Club – will need to sign a section 106 agreement on clauses such as the non-poaching retail arrangements, which the Hatters willingly submitted to, to demonstrate how Newlands Park was always designed to be complementary to existing town centre retail.
This could take a few weeks but, once that is done, a six-week period will begin where any party can lodge a judicial review. This can be applied for at an objector’s expense, but only on the grounds that the legal planning process has not been followed correctly.
However, it would also cost Luton taxpayers money because, as council deputy leader, Cllr Sian Timoney posted on Twitter: ‘LBC would have significant costs defending it and preparing that defence with officers and legal representatives regardless of who launched it’.
Green added: “Like our football team, Luton is not accustomed to losing. We are on the up in every respect so Lutonians will not take kindly to anyone who continues to selfishly ignore our wishes and the democratic process. Worse still, would be to pursue a crusade of failure through the courts, taking money out of our pockets which would be better spent on vital public services that have been severely hit by funding cuts.”