Hatters CEO is expecting greater opposition to Luton's Newlands Park application

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet is anticipating a higher level of resistance when the club’s planning application for Newlands Park is heard in just under two weeks time.

The Hatters were granted planning permission for a new 17,500 stadium at Power Court by Luton Borough Council last night.

Town CEO Gary Sweet

Town CEO Gary Sweet

To finance the new ground, the club need their mixed use scheme at Newlands Park to get the go-ahead as well, with the committee meeting on Wednesday, January 30 to discuss the outcome.

The planning officer’s recommendation is expected next week, although The Mall owners Capital & Region have already registered their fierce opposition to the applications.

There were just two objections for the Power Court plans last night, one from St Mary's Church and the other regarding traffic concerns.

When asked if he was expecting a great resistance to Newlands Park, Sweet said: “We're confident there will be, but on what grounds?

“I can understand their commercial objection, but we have done everything to mitigate that to a level which frankly is so insignificant when you balance it off against the positive advantages of both applications to the economy and everything of Luton.

“I don't understand the persistence of that objection, but they have every right to do that."

However, Sweet believes that the club are fully prepared for any such challenge and can take plenty from last night’s meeting, as he continued: “This is the first time I have ever been in a committee meeting like this on a large application.

“The experience was very useful and that's something I will learn from.

“We've had two-and-a-half years to prepare, we were prepared a year-and-a-half ago.

“We expected this to be a 12-month application, we understand the reasons why it needed to be longer, but we are more prepared than we ever have been.

“I cannot imagine, as some of the councillors said of this application, has there ever been a developer that's more prepared at the outline stage than we are here, and that will be the same for Newlands Park."

Meanwhile, Luton Town Supporters Trust chairman Tony Murray added: "My own view is that it's (Newlands Park) a no-brainer.

"The council are going to get this town regenerated, and it's not going to cost the taxpayer a single penny.

"I'm deeply concerned about the future of this town without these proposals.

"I have my issues, shall we say, with a faceless corporation, which is trying to dictate what's best for this town.

"The people are the best ones to judge what happens in this town, what's best for this town, not some faceless corporation that has let our shopping set-up go to wrack and ruin."

A statement from Capital & Regional after planning permission was granted for Power Court said: "We welcome Luton Borough Council’s planning committee decision this evening to grant outline permission for the new Luton Town stadium on the Power Court site and we look forward to working with them on their forthcoming detailed application."