Luton Town plans for Power Court Approved
Last evening in a Luton Borough Council planning control meeting the plans by Luton Town Football Club / 2020 Developments were given a green light. St Mary’s welcome this decision, and look forward to working together with our new neighbours!
Rev Mike Jones, Vicar of St Mary’s spoke at the meeting:
“St Mary’s broadly welcome the plans by 2020 Luton Town Football Club. The club has engaged closely with us since well before their plans were made public. The church has stood on the site for over 1200 years, the present building just short of 900 years. It has been at the heart of the town’s community throughout that time, and seeks to continue in that tradition. It has seen many changes in the town, weathered many challenges and survived them. The development would give us a new stage and new opportunities, and we will seek to step up to them.”
Historic England had expressed concern over the proximity of a large stadium so close to the church, a grade one listed building. However Mike expressed hope that working together with the club it would be possible to alleviate these concerns. He also noted we looked forward to the development of and landscaping of the area of St Mary’s Road and the rerouted River Lea. Mike’s input was welcomed by the club and planning committee.
Gary Sweet, Director of Luton Town in his address made clear again his and the club’s commitment to the welfare of the town. His colleague, Michael Moran, responsible for leading the development, specifically addressed the relationship with St Mary’s:
“We resolutely commit to continuing dialogue with St Mary’s throughout the detailed stages of design and of course to continuing the close relationship once the stadium is up and running.”
His words reflect the goodwill and integrity all connected with the club have displayed to the church since we started talking, and give us real hope for the future relationship.
St Mary’s have had input into the plans at each stage as they have developed. In particular we submitted an 8 page letter to the planners, followed up with a further submission this last autumn. Our concerns have addressed the issues that would impact us most: the design of the stadium, the master plan and the public area between us, but also details of traffic flow and access, parking and noise. We have also noted our concerns regarding the long period of construction.
Last evening was however not the end of the process. 2020’s ability to develop the stadium and site depend on their getting the go ahead for Newlands Park at Junction 10. Because of concerns over the viability of retail in the present climate and ongoing online market, this will be most likely be more highly contested. We trust a positive consensus can be reached, and will be praying for that.
Although there’s a long way to go, it’s a good step forward for the town!