Smaller Rushden Lakes expansion will still have major effect on Northampton trade

Northampton Borough Council is set to object to plans to expand Rushden Lakes.
Northampton Borough Council is set to object to plans to expand Rushden Lakes.

Plans to expand the Rushden Lakes retail park by adding a new area to the west of the site have drawn objections from Northampton Borough Council.

Rushden Living had wanted to increase the footprint of the out-of-town shopping centre in the north of the county by an extra 12,000 sq m but withdrew the plans last month.

It has now come back with a greatly reduced 5,600 sq m scheme to add two restaurants, a dental surgery, a physiotherapy suite, creche and industrial units to the retail park. The new area would link to the current park via a 'wetland walk'.

But a report set to go before Northampton Borough Council's planning committee next week says the new development would still be 'sprawling'- even though it is half the size of the one originally proposed.

It states: "The proposal would comprise a substantial expansion to and change the nature of the Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure complex.

"As such, the resulting complex would effectively replicate and resemble a town centre environment in an out-of-centre location to the detriment of the vitality and viability of surrounding town centres including Northampton town centre."

Northampton Borough Council is expected to lodge a formal objection to the scheme when the planning committee meets on Tuesday.

Earlier this year the council commissioned a retail and leisure study, which found has found that Rushden Lakes was 'already beginning to have an impact on expenditure patterns in Northampton'.

In terms of clothing and footwear, the retail park has been identified as hoovering up some 9.3 per cent of Northampton residents’ expenditure.

"In addition, the opening of Rushden Lakes has been cited as a factor in Marks & Spencer’s decision to close their store in Northampton town centre," the report adds.

The planning committee will meet at the Guildhall at 5pm on Tuesday, July 30.