* indicates required

£1.5bn investment plan aims to put Luton at UK economy’s top table

A packed audience of investors, businesses and opinion formers at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London heard how the town’s combination of superb infrastructure, great access and a skilled workforce is making it one of the UK’s best opportunities when it comes to business and investment.

Luton is set to completely transform over the next 20 years with a number of major developments creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

International property developers and investors who own large development sites in Luton talked to the mainly London-based audience about a range of schemes coming forward over the next 18 months.

The town has eight major strategic development sites offering retail, leisure, hotels and housing opportunities and large sites for engineering, technology, creative and aviation-linked employment.

Business leaders and commercial entrepreneurs took part in a panel discussion when a number of reasons were given for why Luton is becoming a magnet for employers offering high-quality jobs.

The discussion was chaired by Tony Danaher, chief executive of UKTI’s Regeneration Investment Organisation, whose extensive career has seen him become one of the most respected and well-connected individuals in the UK property and regeneration industries.

Mr Danaher said: “It was clear that a lot of people were pleasantly surprised by what they heard and saw. Luton is bold and ambitious, and rapidly becoming a location of choice for some of the fastest-growing industries that are driving the UK economy.

“Its accessible workforce and good commercial rents make it attractive to new businesses, and with three dedicated railway stations, it is also one of the most affordable commuter towns in the country.

“However Luton’s appeal is much more than its location and affordability.  It is the top town in the UK for super-fast broadband connectivity and, with a number of major development schemes coming forward, including a 395-acre Enterprise Zone, it starts to become obvious why Luton is attracting attention from so many businesses.”

A number of developments were showcased at today’s launch, including London Luton Airport’s £110 million redevelopment which is set to increase annual capacity by 50%, from 12 to 18 million by 2020.

Other Luton schemes presented included multi-million pound mixed-use developments at Napier Gateway (J2 Global), Butterfield Business Park (Henry Boot Developments), High Town, Sloane International luxury apartments and Power Court (British Land).

2020 Developments, the company behind Luton Town Football Club, presented its vision for a new football stadium and associated enabling development to regenerate the town.

Capital &Regional, the owner of 1 million sq ft The Mall shopping centre in the heart of Luton, also presented its exciting development plans.

The local authority launched the Luton Investment Framework at the event, which is a 20-year plan for major transformation through inward investment and outlines how Luton will achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth and create over 18,500 jobs for local people.

The Framework underpins how the local authority is working with key partners to drive improvements to health and wellbeing and enhance prosperity across the town.

Luton Council is achieving this by working in partnership with major investors and developers and has rebranded the town under a ‘Think Luton’ campaign which the local authority hopes will help challenge some existing perceptions.

Council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons said: “Luton is ambitious, innovative and ready for business and we want to demonstrate absolute quality at every level.

“I think today’s event went some way towards achieving this and I know we were able to surprise and excite a lot of people about Luton’s massive transformation.

“Luton is already home to a number of multi-national businesses backed by a strong enterprise culture and we want to build on this strength and encourage more firms to invest in the town, and in return, offer affordable premises, access to international markets and a skilled workforce.

“The ongoing decrease in funding for local authorities across the country is impacting on local services and residents’ lives, which is why we play a vital role in leading the drive to encourage growth.” 

Council chief executive Trevor Holden added: “The Council has grasped its ‘place shaping’ agenda and is delivering a comprehensive investment strategy of local, regional and national significance.”

For more information visit www.thinkluton.co.uk

More from Bedford: