New home: The vacant DHL site on Kimpton Road
Media mogul Richard Desmond has handed Luton a vital jobs boost with plans to build a ‘Media City’.
Nearly 140 posts will be created if the green light is given to convert the disused DHL building on Kimpton Road into a brand new printing plant for his publications including the Daily and Sunday Express.
West Ferry Printers, a subsidiary of Express Newspapers Group, has currently only applied to change the use of the building from a warehouse to industrial premises.
In the application it says the plant, from which the Daily Star and OK! magazine would also be printed and distributed, would ‘promote regeneration in the area’.
Planning documents for the development - called Media City - state: ‘The project proposes the refurbishment and remodelling to the existing warehouse building to provide high quality offices, and a newspaper printing facility.
'The printing facility will cater for 89 permanent and 50 part-time staff.’
Some will see the news as a shot in the arm for the town of Luton, which is chasing success with its City Status bid.
David Franks, leader of Luton Borough Council’s Liberal Democrats group, and whose Crawley ward the press will be built in, said: “I’m no great fan of the newspapers or their political stance but it has got to be printed somewhere and if it means 140 jobs for people in Luton then that is a good thing.
“Some of the jobs will hopefully be highly-skilled and high-salaried and we need jobs at all different levels.”
John Newton, executive director of Luton Gateway which works to promote growth in the town, said: “If the individual can create jobs and those jobs are sustainable jobs not just temporary then we would support them.”
Mr Desmond is believed to be one of the top 50 wealthiest people in the UK and was in June quoted as saying: “I’ve got so much money it’s ridiculous.”
He owns Channel 5 and a host of adult TV channels.
Earlier this year, when plans to move the current press from its London Docklands location were announced, Express Newspapers owner Mr Desmond told NewsMEDIA: “I am delighted to announce this investment in our print products.
“The Daily Express and Sunday Express will benefit massively from expanded editions, full colour for readers and advertisers, and later deadlines meaning even fuller coverage of breaking news.
“This move will also allow us to accommodate the rising circulation of the Daily Star.”
Luton on Sunday contacted Express Newspapers Group and West Ferry Printers but neither would comment.