With all eyes on the Town Hall tonight, a campaign group has told councillors that their decision over the regeneration of Power Court will “reverberate around Luton for generations to come”.
One of the most eagerly anticipated planning applications in the history of the borough will be determined from 6pm and #saveourtown says the outcome will either give Lutonians and their children a bright new future or devastate the town.
Supporters of the Power Court regeneration proposal were last week buoyed by a report from a planning officer which recommended approval be granted for the scheme.
Should that endorsement be adhered to it would be an historic decision to grant the first ever permission for a new Luton Town Football Club stadium after more than 60 years of trying to move from their current home of Kenilworth Road.
But the Power Court proposal is about much more than football because approval would mean a 17,500-seat arena accompanied by other facilities including an 1,800-capacity music venue, bars, restaurants, leisure and entertainment facilities, plus a new enhanced public piazza meeting space which will see the River Lea emerge from its underground hiding place.
Power Court is the first of two planning applications submitted by 2020 Developments – the property arm of the Hatters – with Newlands Park, by junction 10 of the M1 motorway, set to be determined on January 30.
Combined, both applications would boost the local economy by more than £250million a year and create 10,000 new jobs.
But the proposals were submitted in August 2016 and it has been a long, frustrating journey for backers, which includes a UK planning record of 11,000 people that wrote letters of support to the council two-and-a-half years ago. In comparison, the new London Luton Airport expansion only amassed a few hundred letters of support.
Such is the anticipation for tonight’s meeting among local people that the council is taking the unusual step of streaming the development control committee meeting live on their Facebook channel, due to the limited capacity of the Town Hall Chamber.
The Chairman of #saveourtown, Nigel Green, said: “Whichever way our elected councillors choose to vote tonight on the planning application for Power Court, it will be an historic day where the verdict will reverberate around Luton for generations to come.
“To turn it down will be devastating for Luton. But, to follow the planning officer’s recommendation and grant approval, will be a vote to save our town from stagnation and decline.
“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime vote for major transformation. It will be a vote for the progress Lutonians want and deserve. And above all it will be a vote to afford our children a bright new future, growing up in a town that they can be proud of.
“We expect nothing less than a positive decision, which will be the first step towards a new dawn for our home, and we call on the councillors concerned to do the right thing and make one of our dreams come true.”