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Luton Town hits out as stadium project faces new challenge

English Championship football club Luton Town has expressed its “extreme disappointment” after a legal challenge was entered against a project that is intended to be a key part of its new stadium plan.

Specialist property company Capital & Regional has applied for a judicial review into the plans for Newlands Park, a shopping and leisure facility that could rival its own Mall offering in Luton. In March, Luton Borough Council’s development control committee ruled that plans for the Newlands Park project should be approved, seemingly paving the way for the new stadium.

Newlands Park is intended to help pay for Luton’s state-of-the-art stadium, which will have a capacity of 17,500, with the potential to expand up to 23,000. The club was granted planning permission to build a new stadium on the Power Court site in January. Luton has played at the 10,300-seat Kenilworth Road stadium since 1905 and has been trying to relocate since the 1950s.

According to the BBC, Capital & Regional has applied for a judicial review as it believes the grant of planning permission for Newlands Park was “unlawful”. Luton Borough Council has said it is “disappointed” about the challenge.

In a statement, the council said it was “concerned about the potential cost to Luton taxpayers and the inevitable delays in this beneficial development coming forward”. It added: “It is right that we vigorously defend the decision and we intend to do so.”

In a statement, Luton Town and its property arm 2020 Developments said: “The claim by Capital & Regional does not come as a surprise given their track record of opposing our plans and, we believe, their claims have no merit whatsoever. Indeed, it has always been our view that Capital & Regional have opposed and continue to oppose our plans on commercial factors rather than factors of public interest.

“Naturally, their decision to make such a claim will lead to delays to the regeneration of Luton and will not only incur significant costs to our own business affecting our operational expenditure but also to Luton Council, which will be funded by the local taxpayer.

“This action also goes against the interests of the community, of which over 10,000 supported our applications in writing at the committee meeting earlier this year, after which the approval was not called in by the Secretary of State. It will now be the community who will see further delays to the significant private investment brought about by the delivery of Newlands Park, which will lead to the substantial positive economic impact on the area being frustrated.

“2020 Developments will now support the Council in their vigorous defence of the challenge.”

Image: 2020 Developments