Published: 30/03/2008 00:00 - Updated: 18/01/2009 00:59

J12 stadium plans run into problems

BY KEELEY KNOWLES
There are a few more spanners in the works for the new Luton Town FC stadium proposed for Junction 12.

New figures released this week reveal that the cost of the M1 widening from Junction 10 to Junction 13 has almost doubled since last year and is now expected to cost around £600m.

Cllr Brian GolbyThe Department for Transport also revealed that the A5 to M1 link is likely to cost around £124m instead of the original estimate of £48m.

On Tuesday in the House of Commons, the Under Secretary of State for Transport Tom Harris answered a question from Theresa Villiers, the Shadow Transport Secretary about the cost of the M1 widening.

Mr Harris stated that following the publication of a study earlier this month, the Highways Agency has been asked whether active traffic management with a hard shoulder might be a more cost-effective alternative to widening on some sections.

If the widening does not go ahead then there would not be the road infrastructure originally planned for Junction 12 which would make the proposal by Goodman developers more problematic.

Earlier this month, we reported that plans had been announced for the building of Junction 11a on the M1 which is seen by many, a preferred site for the Hatters' new football ground.

This news is welcomed by campaigners against the development because the site is on greenbelt land near Toddington.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Harlington Brian Golby said: "This is a near doubling of costs in 12 months which could be yet another blow to the junction 12 speculative venture."

Another concern that campaigners have about the development is that it would threaten wildlife that resides in or around the River Flit because part of the site would be built on the floodplain.

Cllr Golby expresses particular concern for the protected water voles and otters whose important habitat is the surrounding flood plain of the river.

Cllr Golby said: "This is a case of children's favourites, Ratty and Tarka versus global developers.

"There is no contest, they should pack up now, not waste any more money and head down the M1 to Junction 11a."

A spokesman for Goodman said: "All aspects of the development have been taken into consideration."
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