Luton South MP Gavin Shuker has blasted the ‘outrageous’ opposition to the Hatters’ plans to build a new 17,500 all seater stadium at Power Court, plus a mixed use scheme at Newlands Park.
The club submitted their proposals for a new ground along with the scheme on land adjacent to Junction 10 of the M1, to include offices, retail space, a hotel and leisure amenities, which were validated on the Luton Borough Council website back in August.
I think it’s outrageous that the owners of The Mall have sought to block these plans coming forward.Gavin Shuker, MP
Town’s plans have been opposed by Capital & Regional, who own the Mall, with Ken Ford, a senior executive, stating ‘a football stadium is not necessarily appropriate’ in an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio.
However, Shuker, writing on his official Facebook page, said: “I think it’s outrageous that the owners of The Mall have sought to block these plans coming forward, especially given the lack of investment in their own site over the past decade.
“It’s understandable they will want to protect their business, but Power Court could be a real win-win with more people in the Town Centre and our night time economy rejuvenated.
“I’ve met with the chairman of Capital and Regional (the owners of The Mall) and told him this to his face. We don’t see eye to eye but I’m very happy to continue to try and bring them round.
“Once a (hopefully, positive) determination is made by LBC, there is a possibility that the Secretary of State will want to look at the decision.
“I see no reason why they should want to intervene, and I’ll be working hard to try and encourage them not to as it will add time, complexity and cost into the project.
“Moving the Hatters, getting brilliant new facilities at Newlands Road, and beginning to regenerate the Kenilworth Road site for the benefits of the residents of Bury Park are some of the clearest priorities for me in this coming parliament.”
Shuker himself, who was relected to his seat earlier this month, visited Luton chief executive Gary Sweet and the club’s new training facility at the Brache this week.
On what was said. he added: “We discussed what I could do to help LTFC bring about their plans for a new stadium at Power Court and enabling development at Newlands Road.
“It’s a conversation we’ve been having for years and now we are getting close to seeing the planning application go before the Development Control committee at Luton Borough Council.
“That application will be decided by local councillors - I don’t get to make the determination. But that frees me up to be publicly and vocally supportive (in a way in which, to be fair to LBC they legally can’t be) much more easily.
“I think three things will really help get this project off the ground (and forgive me here, as it gets a little technical). Firstly, to encourage the council to use their full discretion to develop policies in their local plan that allow us to use the sites at Newlands Road and Power court for these developments.
“Secondly, to do all it can to speedily get the necessary reports for the Development Control committee done, and put it before our local councillors to determine soon.
“And thirdly, not to adopt the Local Plan in its current form until we have secured a determination on these sites.”