Hatters CEO Sweet would be 'gobsmacked' if 'weak and toothless' C&R apply for a Judicial Review over Newlands Park

Town chief executive Gary Sweet
Town chief executive Gary Sweet

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet would be ‘gobsmacked’ if the law firm representing Capital & Regional apply for a Judicial Review into Luton Borough Council’s decision to award the Hatters’ planning permission for a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park.

Town were given the green light back in March, but the property management firm have been long term opposers to the development, which the club need to finance a new stadium at Power Court.

C&R's legal team have threatened to apply for a JR if the council don’t overturn their decision, which they confirmed won’t be happening in a letter to lawyers Eversheds Sutherland this week.

With the deadline to seek a JR ending on Tuesday, writing in today’s match programme, Sweet said: “I’m sure you all all be aware that, in three days’ time, the much talked about six-week period for a judicial review challenge upon Luton Council for our successful planning applications at both Newlands Park and Power Court expires.

“Clearly, it is hoped that no challenge will be forthcoming despite the Council’s receipt of a ‘Pre-Action Protocol’ letter from Capital & Regional’s lawyer effectively providing advice of their intention to do so in relation to our Newlands Park scheme.

“Since receiving this, we have naturally support the Council in whatever information they required resulting in their excellent and pleasing response to Eversheds Sutherland earlier this week.

“As I write these notes, no follow-up action has been instigated and, personally, I would be literally gobsmacked if our planning opponents had the audacity and bluster to push the button on an action that would effectively “declare ware on the people of Luton”, as exclaimed by our two chief supporters’ groups later this week.

“The arguments put forward in the letter-before-action were, in my mind, weak and toothless and I would suggest, knowingly so.

“I would find it hard to believe that any senior legal advisor would recommend that their client commits, not only themselves to a significant expense, but much more so for the taxpayers of Luton in order to merely delay an inevitable outcomes.

“Furthermore, should they be imprudent enough to challenge I would be somewhat surprised if the High Court gave it enough substance to invest valuable and expensive court hearing time.

“In their statement, the Council said the would vigorously defend the decision to grant us with planning permission to build a mixed-used scheme at Newlands Park an that the were ready to do so.

“I can assure you that we are more than ready to support the Council in every possible way we can to ensure that any arguments they put forward are kicked into their own long grass, hopefully, at their cost.

“We are steadfast in our ambitions for our football club and our town, with or without further battles. We aren’t going anywhere. We are here to stay and more than ready for anything that any opponent puts in our way.”