All eyes are on the new supremo of the council to deliver a new legacy for Luton – that’s the view of #saveourtown who have urged Laura Church to lead the town towards a bright new future.
The Corporate Director, Place and Infrastructure has been handed the authority’s top job on an interim basis, replacing former chief executive Trevor Holden.
In her director role, Ms Church leads the department dealing with the Newlands Park and Power Court planning applications submitted by 2020 Developments, the property arm of Luton Town Football Club.
Campaign group #saveourtown met with her at the start of December, alongside representatives from the Luton Town Supporters’ Trust and Loyal Luton fans’ groups.
In what was a productive meeting with Ms Church, council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons and deputy Cllr Sian Timoney, assurances were sought and given that Luton Borough Council has been dedicating the proper time and resources in dealing with two of the most complex applications in the history of the town.
Less than 24 hours after the talks at the Town Hall, it was revealed that the planning committee dates were set for January 16, for Power Court, and January 30, for Newlands Park.
#saveourtown has welcomed the new council CEO on her appointment but offered a stark reminder of how January 2019 will shape hers, and the town’s legacy.
Chairman Nigel Green said: “#saveourtown would like to congratulate Laura Church on her appointment as interim CEO of Luton Borough Council.
“We believe 2019 can be a momentous year for Luton so all eyes are on her now to deliver the planning approval for Newlands Park and Power Court, which will kickstart the transformation of our town.
“We call on Ms Church to do everything in her power to ensure that the hopes and expectations of the residents she serves are acted upon.
“As we did when we met, we want to make absolutely crystal clear, once again, that there is no bigger show in town than these two planning applications.
“We know the council have to think about the bigger picture and so will often talk about the £1.5billion Luton Investment Framework. It is important in business and growth terms and we welcome that investment, but these things are too pitched at a bureaucratic level that mean next to nothing to people on the street. We know this because we’ve pounded the pavements and talked to thousands of our fellow Lutonians.
“What they and our supporters – plus a UK planning record number of people in favour Newlands Park and Power Court – want and deserve is a town centre to be proud of.
“Developments such as the expanded airport and the forthcoming Luton DART line are important, but they will not be an adequate compensation should the council fail to grant approval for Newlands Park and Power Court.
“Not only is approval vital for the future of Luton, it is vital for maintaining the support of #saveourtown and Lutonians.
“We cannot impress this enough to Ms Church and her officers, who will put forward their recommendations to the development control committee of elected representatives. Theirs will either be a vote for more years of stagnation, or regeneration.
“We now stand at a metaphorical fork in the road. One direction is failure that will not be tolerated or forgotten by the people of our town. The other is success which will usher in a bright new future for Luton.
“One or the other will be Ms Church’s legacy. All eyes are on her. We trust her council to make the right decision and approve Newlands Park and Power Court.”