Luton airport has won approval for a modernisation plan which includes a revamp of its terminal.

A series of developments designed to meet growing passenger demand were given the green light by Luton Borough Council.

The Department for Communities and Local Government will now consider whether the application should be determined by Whiehall or whether the council can proceed to issue the consent.

The airport, which handled 9.6 million passengers in 2012, wants to expand and re-model its terminal, build a new taxiway with will unlock capacity for an extra 6 million passengers a year from its existing runway and build a multi-storey car park.

The development of the terminal includes:
•       Up to 20 security passenger screening lanes;
•       15 immigration passenger screening lanes;
•       Up to 8 international and 1 domestic passenger reclaim belts;
•       Increased retail, catering, circulation and seating areas;
•       A new two-storey pier.

The aim is to position the airport as the “quick, convenient and efficient” low cost alternative to its London counterparts; alleviating existing and future constraints, and opening up the local region to new holiday destinations, business travel and inward investment.

The work will take place over three phases if it wins government backing.

Managing director Glyn Jones said: “We have committed to developing an airport which everyone in the local area will be proud of, and passengers from all over the world will enjoy visiting.

“In the year of our 75th Anniversary this is an exciting milestone for all of us at the Airport, the local area, and the millions of passengers who use us for business travel, to visit friends and family or to get away on holiday.”

EasyJet UK commercial manager Hugh Aitken, welcomed the news and said: “Luton was easyJet’s first base in 1995 and remains our spiritual home.

“This decision is an important step in helping Luton to realise its potential and enabling it to play a greater role in serving the transport needs of north London.  We look forward to working with the airport and seeing the plans develop.”

Luton South MP Gavin Shuker said: “This is a great day for the town, and a much needed boost for our local economy. London Luton has returned over £210 million in concession payments to the council since 1998, and it is good news for local taxpayers that these are set to increase between now and 2031 as the airport develops.”

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Cheryl Smart added: “Whether you work in business, or are looking for a job, this is exciting news and important to the local economy.

“The development is expected to generate approximately £218 million in added annual value to the economy, and bring over 5,000 much needed jobs to our area.”