Independent report backs Hatters schemes beyond Gary Sweet’s ‘wildest dreams’

Architect Manuel Nogueira (left) and Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet with  LTFC's plans for Power Court
Architect Manuel Nogueira (left) and Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet with LTFC's plans for Power Court
0
Have your say

An independent report into Luton Town’s plans to develop Power Court and Newlands Park has concluded that the schemes could jointly generate around £255m annually to Luton’s economy from 2020.

In addition the study, just released by KPMG, states that almost 10,500 additional full-time jobs will be created for the town by the new developments if they are approved by Luton Borough Council.

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet told this website that the positivity of the findings were beyond his “wildest dreams”.

By relocating Luton Town’s current stadium from Kenilworth Road to Power Court, the new 17,500-seater ground alone could generate an additional £32.7m to £68.2m to the Luton economy between August 2020 to July 2040 (up to £3.4m per year), and up to 83 extra jobs, depending on football club’s league position.

The report adds that other new facilities that will be built at Power Court – such as a music/entertainment venue, cafés/bars/restaurants, 500+ apartments, and hotel facilities – could add over £450m of additional economic value to the Luton economy over the same period (almost £23m a year), sustaining almost 800 new jobs.

KPMG says these figures could be even higher if the Hatters were promoted, at some point in the assessment period, to the Premier League.

The report states: “There are currently no firm alternative proposed developments for the Power Court site which has been wasteland for some decades. There is a distinct possibility that if the 2020 Developments (Luton) Ltd proposal does not go ahead, it could remain so for more years to come.

“The Luton Local Plan envisaged that the site could potentially be redeveloped to accommodate a convenience retail (supermarket) outlet. Even if this were to happen, which is very far from certain, KPMG estimates that the 2020

Developments (Luton) Ltd plans could generate almost £20m per year of economic value added over and above the supermarket option, and potentially 677 more jobs.”

The 40-acre Newlands Park proposal at M1 Junction 10 for offices, retail space and leisure amenities will help the Hatters finance the Power Court scheme.

The KPMG report states: “We estimate that around £235m of additional economic value will be added per year for the Luton economy from the Junction 10 development (around £4.7 billion of gross value added over the period January 2021 to December 2041) with 9,780 extra FTE jobs. Based on the current use of the J10 site (the baseline) and the lack of credible alternative uses for the site, we consider that the extra economic activity and jobs is likely to be additional for Luton.”

Although the Hatters themselves commissioned KPMG to carry out the study within specific terms of reference agreed between the club and KPMG, the auditors point out it has used Government-approved methodologies to come to its conclusions.

Mr Sweet has said: “KPMG have got a reputation to look after. They are not just going to put into a report what we want them to say.

“They operate on a set of strict guidelines and have a reputation for accuracy and fairness. The council has also provided some of the data to go in the report. There is no question that it is not accurate and a fair reflection.”

The chief executive said there had already been about 4,000 representations to the council on the linked proposals and claimed that more than 90% were in support of the schemes.

One representation that hasn’t been made yet is from Capital & Regional (owners of the Mall Luton), who told this website this week that it was still finalising its response. Mr Sweet said he fully expected them to object.

> The public consultation deadline is October 10 - see also http://trib.al/QUmxQkc

For more information about the process, visit www.2020developments.co.uk/applications.

You can email your views to developmentcontrol@luton.gov.uk or write to Development Control, Luton Borough Council, George Street, Luton, LU1 2BQ. You must quote both planning reference numbers - Power Court: 16/01400 and Newlands Park: 16/01401.