Moran insists Luton should draw a line on the past after defeating 'obstinate objector' Capital & Regional

How the Hatters' mixed use scheme at Newlands Park might look
How the Hatters' mixed use scheme at Newlands Park might look

Developments director for 2020, Mike Moran, believes the Hatters should draw a line over the past after defeating ‘obstinate objector’ Capital & Regional for the final time last week.

The Mall owners failed to appeal the High Court’s decision not to enter a Judicial Review into Luton's plans for a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park, which is essential in financing a new stadium at Power Court.

It means there is no longer any opposition to the scheme, ensuring Town can go ahead and secure the funding that is needed for both developments, which were originally submitted in August 2016.

Writing in the programme ahead of the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham on Saturday, Moran said: “It’s important to draw a line on the past and look forward now to a bright future.

"The years in planning have galvanised the team and our relationship with Luton Council is stronger than ever.

"We have seen first-hand the impacts of central government budget cuts on local authorities, but the senior leadership in the Town Hall and their planning officers have been fantastic in the face of all challenges, despite a host of changes in personnel that have had to be managed.

"I certainly never thought back then it would take us so long to get to this stage and on hearing the news this last week that all final legal challenges from Capital & Regional had failed, it was a mixture of emotions; relief, anger at the wasted years, and excitement for the future.

"I’d describe it as much about “vindication” as about “celebration”.

"From the very outset we put together a plan that we honestly felt was best for the club, the town as a whole and its people.

"We assembled a brilliant team of advisers and consultants to help and guide us, and it is a credit to everyone that after all the years of challenge and scrutiny from opponents, not one single technical or legal flaw in our planning applications was found.

"The pressure applied by Capital & Regional on Luton Council from the start meant we went head-first into a major review of the Local Plan when all experts at the time felt we were destined to fail.

"There was a window to get the plans through before the 2017 Local Plan review, even back in 2016 we could have done it, before Brexit and the first of two destabilising general elections, but for the actions of that said company.

"It’s possible to say that these opponents were merely defending their commercial interests.

"That works to an extent, but Gary and I spent an awful lot of time many years ago engaging with all parties offering to work together for the good of Luton, but we were dismissed out of hand by just one obstinate objector.”

On what are the next steps in the planning phase for the club, Moran continued: “Firstly, we can properly engage with the occupiers and investors we have been talking to over the years.

“Our designs and plans are over four years old. Retail, leisure and housing markets have all seen change in the interim.

“We need to work these through as we produce our detailed plans.

“In any assessment of investment value that adage of “location, location, location” remains as true now as ever.

“On that score there are few, if any, better sites coming forward in the UK than 20 acres adjacent to a station 20 minutes or so from Central London; and 40 acres right on Junction 10 of the M1 that speaks for itself.

“Of course, there are risks and challenges ahead, as with any development project. But be assured we have a first-rate team around us who now just need a little bit of time to work to bring things together.”

Moran was also keen to pay tribute to the Hatters' owners for their unwavering belief that the club would get the green light.

He added: "The last word, of course, needs to be about the club’s custodians on the board of 2020.

"I simply cannot imagine there is another club in the country with such a unified sense of purpose and commitment to doing things in the right way for the long-term benefit of this great club and town.”