A guide looking at serviced offices and office space for rent in Luton as well as providing general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the town.
History & Geography
Luton is located on the east side of the rolling Chiltern Hills in South East England on the River Lea. About 30 miles north of London, Luton is one of the most important of the towns surrounding the capital. However Luton’s origins are fairly modest, the town started life as a Saxon outpost in the 6th century, growing slowly over the subsequent years. By the time the Domesday Book was written in the late 11th century after the Norman invasion, Luton had a population of approximately 800 people, mostly making their living off the local agricultural industry. In the 12th century, Robert, the 1st Earl of Gloucester built St Marys Church in the town centre of Luton, where it has stood since. During the English Civil War in the 17th century Luton was the site of several skirmishes between Royalist and Parliamentary forces, resulting the deaths of approximately 13 Royalist troops. During the 18th century the town became famous for its hat-making industry, an industry which continues in Luton to this day, albeit on a much smaller level. The 19th century saw the town’s population increase ten-fold. Much of this was due to the prosperity resulting from the town’s industry. In 1834 the town received a gas supply and by 1847 it had gas powered streetlights and a new town hall. In the 20th century Luton’s hat trade declined drastically, but was replaced by the auto industry when in 1905 Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the UK. At the same time Electrolux also opened a plant for household appliances. By 1914 Luton’s population had reached 50,000. During WWII Luton suffered a number of air raids due to the presence of its Vauxhall factory. Over one hundred people died and there was a much property damage. After the war much of Luton’s slum housing was cleared and council estates constructed. The town grew and incorporated many of the surrounding villages like Leagrave, Limbury and Stopsley. In 2000 Vauxhall announced the closure of its factory, which had employed over 30,000 people. Currently Luton is undergoing a regeneration program incorporating improvements to the town’s urban environment.
Luton’s economy has undergone many changes in the last couple of centuries. The town’s traditional industries of hat-making and brick-making declined in the 20th century and are no longer major industries. Vauxhall Motors still has its headquarters in the town, but closed its factory approximately a decade ago. Today Luton is a major retail venue and is currently undergoing a regeneration scheme which will see the central business district of the town transformed to include a new shopping centre. Luton’s existing mall, the Arndale Centre, will also be completely refitted. A major bulwark of Luton’s economy today is its airport. London Luton Airport is the fourth largest airport serving the London area and sees over 10 million passengers every year. Luton serves as a base for EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Airways and RyanAir. London Luton Airport and the airlines that are based from it is a major employer in the area.
Luton has a number of parks spread around the town, the two primary ones being Stockwood Park and Wardown Park. Stockwood Park boasts a free museum which houses the Mossman Collection, the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in the UK. The park also has an athletics track, 18-hole golf course and several rugby pitches. Wardown Park sits on the River Lea and is home to the Wardown Park Museum, which documents the history of Luton’s hat-making industry. Luton is also known for the Luton Carnival, the largest one-day carnival in Europe. Usually the carnival takes place on the late May bank holiday and is attended by crowds of up to 150,000. Luton also celebrates St Patrick’s Day more than most towns, putting on a parade, market stalls and various Irish themed events. The theatre scene is quite popular in Luton and is based around the Library Theatre and the Hat Factor, an arts venue opened in 2003 in, as the name suggests, a refurbished hat factory. Luton’s football team, Luton Town FC, nicknamed ‘the Hatters’ because of the town’s former hat-making industry, is very popular with the town’s inhabitants. The team plays out of Kenilworth Road stadium and has recently been relegated from the football league.
Luton benefits from excellent transport links with London and the rest of the country. The town is served by three railway stations, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway and Leagrave, which are all on the same line. East Midlands Trains runs services to Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Sheffield and Leeds. Luton town centre is to undergo a major regeneration in before 2014 in order to make access to the railway stations easier. Currently the city is served by fairly comprehensive bus routes. Luton is also obviously served by London Luton Airport, with connections around the country, Europe and the rest of the world.
Due in part to its highly skilled workforce and also its excellent logistical connections, Luton has not suffered as badly as some towns in the recent economic downturn. Prime rents in Luton are hovering around the GBP 20 per square metre mark, as with the rest of the towns around London. Luton is in line for new Grade A office space as the result of the major refurbishment of its central business district, which is to be complete before 2014.