Hatters chief ‘surprised’ as Bedford’s Harpur Centre objects to Luton Town’s Newlands scheme

The Harpur Centre
The Harpur Centre

The Harpur Centre in Bedford has formally objected to Luton Town Football Club’s plans for an out-of-town shopping centre off Junction 10.

In a letter to Luton Borough Council dated June 20, the Harpur Centre’s manager Samantha Laycock wrote of concern about the applications at Power Court and Newlands

Having “recently been made aware of the scheme”, the manager complained the proposals have not been robustly assessed.

She stated: “We have concerns with the significant scale of retail and leisure floorspace proposed ... and the negative impact that we consider this will have to both Luton Town Centre and other nearby centres, including Bedford.”

Gary Sweet, CEO of LTFC, told this website: “We note with some surprise the recent objection to our planning applications received by Luton Borough Council from the Centre Manager of the Harpur Centre in Bedford.

“We are surprised initially due to the time it has taken for The Harpur Centre to submit an objection to applications that have been in the public domain for well over two years and featured heavily across all local media channels frequently during that time.

“We are also surprised they are suggesting Newlands Park would harm their trade. Given the practical distance between Newlands Park and Bedford town centre the results of Luton Council’s own independent retail trade study showed an impact on Bedford of between just 0.1% and 0.4% after Newlands Park has been built.

“Furthermore, the figures also show Bedford still taking approximately £50m of retail spending from the Luton catchment each year even after Newlands Park has commenced trading.”

The week commencing August 20 has been set aside as the week that 2020 Developments’ planning applications for Power Court and Newlands Park will be determined by the Luton Borough Council’s development control committee.

The council has been working with the developer for over a year to finalise all of the necessary information, documentation and reports which are legally required.

Mr Sweet went on: “We have said from the outset that our applications are focused on achieving the best possible outcome for the whole of Luton and the wider region.

“The retail element of development at Newlands Park will be different to other locations in the area and most certainly very different to that of The Harpur Centre and, along with the leisure and office elements, is necessary in order for Power Court to be built as it is cross subsidised.

“Overall, opposing Newlands Park retail will not only stop other things being built there but will put a halt to the significant boost to the local economy of over £250m each year, some of which the whole region will benefit from, including Bedford.”