A football club has hit out at the ‘unfathomable’ wait for a planning decision on its AndArchitects-designed 23,000-seat stadium
Luton Town FC chief executive Gary Sweet warned Luton Borough Council that a decision was urgently needed on its Power Court proposals, which were submitted in the summer of 2016 (see AJ 06.06.16).
The League Two club will be at next month’s MIPIM property fair in Cannes to showcase the stadium and a linked mixed-use development at Newlands Park, which includes more than 500 homes, a large hotel, conferencing facilities, a live music venue, retail space and a leisure destination including a cinema.
Sweet said: ‘We have politely asked the council to be mindful of the fact that visiting Cannes at great expense without having a planning decision after 20 months of consideration will create a not insignificant delay in progressing with the project.
‘Indeed, the inability to be able to trade at MIPIM will not only hamper our progress but the progress of the town itself.’
He added in the programme notes for the Hatters’ 4-1 win at home against in-form Crawley this week: ‘We fully understand and appreciate that planning officers must be meticulous in their considerations, but we have been very patient, as helpful as any developer could be and have been swift in responding to any questions or challenges.
‘I’m beginning to find it unfathomable how something so positive and already so detailed upon submission can take so long.
‘It will be incredibly disappointing – and costly – if we were to miss this key time frame and I have urged our council, as far as I am possibly able, to give us the ammunition to begin the process of making this dream a reality.’
The scheme, close to the town’s main railway station, was drawn up by Battersea-based AndArchitects in conjunction with retail specialist Leslie Jones Architects.
Manuel Nogueira, managing director at AndArchitects, told AJ in 2016 that the stadium would include a new system of ‘halo lighting’ with floodlights pointing directly down at the pitch. It would start at 17,500 seats with the potential to grow.
The Football Association said it was in ’full support’ of the proposals.
’The site can be accessed by excellent public transport routes and will significantly enhance the matchday offer currently available around and inside the new stadium for its stakeholders and supporters,’ said the game’s governing body in a document on the council planning website.
Luton Borough Council said in a statement this week: ’We completely understand and share some of the frustrations about the delays with the process, many of which have been outside the control of the council and the club. Our planning officers have been meeting with the club every fortnight to discuss the status of their applications and support them with the information they still need to submit to us about the funding for the two schemes.
’This funding assessment, along with a final technical report, need to be reviewed by independent experts. We expect that this will take about a month and assuming these outstanding matters are addressed, we should be in a position at the end of April to announce the date of the special development control meeting where the applications will be considered.
’Please be assured the council will continue working closely with the club to ensure the outstanding issues are resolved.’
AndArchitects has been contacted for comment.