Express Newspapers mulls move to Luton industrial estate

Northern and Shell is apparently considering moving its entire national newspaper and magazine operation from central London to an industrial estate next to Luton Airport.

The company is already in the process of moving its printing plant from Westferry in East London to a site formerly occupied by courier company DHL on the outskirts of Luton.

Now a new planning application has detailed a more wide-ranging plan for the ‘Northern and Shell Media City’site which would provide premises for more than 1,000 staff.

Gavin Shukar, Luton MP, told the BBC: “It’s great to see the Express group putting down its commitment to Luton.

“I understand there may be a second phase which may involve editorial. Then you are talking about a very large number of jobs coming to Luton.

“The potential of the site they have chosen is up to 1,400 jobs…That is subject to separate planning consent.”

The Express and Star newspaper titles and the OK, New and Star magazine titles are currently published in riverside offices on Lower Thames Street.

Press Gazette understands that there is very little support for the move from editorial staff. One well placed source said: “I don’t think anyone wants to swap Lower Thames Street for Luton.”

There is a feeling among staff that a Luton base would make it much harder to meet London-based contacts, and travelling to work could be a major issue for many.

It has been noted by staff that Luton would be a reasonable location for Northern and Shell owner Richard Desmond. He lives in Hampstead, north London, four miles from the start of the M1 and a direct route to Luton.

According to The Observer, the new planning application will be considered by Luton Council in March and comprises 11,000 square metres of office space with accommodation for 1,000 workers.

Northern and Shell declined to comment.

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