At the Luton Borough Council (LBC) Development Control Committee meeting of 24 February, the planning application for this road and the business park which (supposedly) it will service was reviewed. It been nearly two years since it was passed in March 2019, and national and local circumstances have changed dramatically since then. Despite LBC having financial problems requiring widely publicised Central Government assistance, it was no surprise that it was voted through again by the Labour and Conservative members of the Committee.
This site is also the preferred option for LBC’s airport expansion and second terminal. This is the true aim for this road, not as access to an industrial site.
Phase one of this development is the access road, details in the following document:- https://www.semlep.com/modules/downloads/download.php?file_name=1660
This gives a cost for the road alone of £140 million, which in the Council’s own words “means all development options potentially unviable”. Add to this the relocation of a local tidy tip/recycling centre, and the actual complexities of building through the landfill site the business park sits on, and that figure will rise.
The actual employment opportunities, which were the main reason why the application was reaffirmed at Committee, would be delivered after the road was built. The original plan was also for the employment site to be for high grade aviation-related/technology companies. This has now been downscaled to just another industrial/warehousing unit facility. A supporting document gives a figure of 1,512 full time equivalent (FTE) positions when the site is at full capacity. Simply put it means that each FTE would cost £92,500, due to the cost of providing this road.
The week previous to this, at a Full Council meeting to pass the budget for LBC for 2021/22, the Finance Portfolio holder told the Council that due to the fact that since 2019, no business case could be found for the funding of the CPAR, it was now being withdrawn from the Capitalisation Budget. It would now be included as part of the Development Consent Order application for airport expansion, which LLAL is still progressing on behalf of LBC. It should have been part of this application all along, but by providing it in advance, it would have opened up that site, and therefore made it a more attractive proposition.
We still have grave concerns that LBC/LLAL will pursue funding for this road from any source, irrespective of the interest rates that loan will then accrue, without any thoughts to how that will impact the financial resources of Luton town.
We will continue of course to follow this closely and report any updates with you.
Stop Luton Airport Expansion