Derelict Power Court could provide an answer to Luton’s need for more public parking spaces – but only in the short term.
Luton Town’s owners 2020 Developments has put in a planning application which, if approved, would introduce 694 spaces on four plots of land within the Power Court site.
The submission to Luton Borough Council seeks a temporary two-year change of use of the land – which the club ultimately wants to build its new stadium on – to short term public car parking.
The application, prepared on behalf of the Hatters by Indigo Planning, says the club expects a decision on the stadium to be made by the end of the summer – although Deputy Leader of Luton Borough Council Cllr Sian Timoney said at a recent public meeting it would be “before the end of the year”.
It states: “Ahead of this comprehensive scheme, 2020 Developments is eager to see the site brought back into beneficial use as soon as possible.
“As such this planning application is submitted to allow for parts of the Power Court site to be used as a public car park to serve Luton town centre.”
The car park would be accessed from the existing traffic lights at the junction of St Mary Road, Church Street and Power Court.
The application points out that there is a long history of car parking on the Power Court site, with permission first granted for this use in 1998.
It adds that planning permission for two other car parks in the town centre – Hotel Complex, Cumberland Street (56 spaces) and Flowers Way (153 spaces) have both expired.
“Neither of these permissions have been extended and further erodes the number of car parking spaces within the town centre.
“This is before referencing the pending loss of the Crawley Road car park and the historic loss of the Library car park which significantly reduced the number of car parking spaces within the Central area.
“The Library car park, which provided approximately 700 spaces, would have been included in the total number of spaces within the central area when the Local Plan and Luton Local Transport Plan were adopted. This quantum of spaces has never been fully replaced.”
The application points out that a total of 1,404 spaces have been/are about to be lost in the town centre, and adds: “It is clear, therefore, that the addition of 694 spaces will not result in an increase above the historic number of parking spaces within Luton’s central area.”
The Hatters say that the car park would only be provided until the comprehensive scheme for the 17,500-seater ground comes forward.
The application adds: “To ensure that there will be no prejudicial impacts to the future development of the site, this permission is limited to a period of two years from commencement of use. Clearly, if the applicant can bring forward the comprehensive scheme before the end of this two-year period, they will.”