Decision on controversial £50 million retail development in Northamptonshire delayed

Rushden Lakes
Rushden Lakes

A decision on the £50 million Rushden Lakes retail development in the east of Northamptonshire has been delayed again.

It was expected that the Secretary of State would reveal whether the scheme by LXB Properties had been approved on or around Thursday, February 13.

But the delay was announced on Tuesday afternoon and no new date has been confirmed.

Northampton Borough Council objected to the scheme and gave evidence on the impact on Northampton town centre at a planning inquiry in July.

Leader of the borough council, Councillor David Mackintosh, said: “We are disappointed that the future of Rushden Lakes will not be determined this week. The final decision will affect how we plan the future of our town, and the steps we will take to continue to attract jobs and investment.

“We will be seeking clarification on when a decision will be made so that we can communicate this to our partners and the business community.”

East Northamptonshire Council said it has been informed by the Department of Communities and Local Government on Tuesday afternoon that “the Secretary of State will not be in a position to reach a decision on the Rushden Lakes application by 13 February 2014.”

Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Steven North, said: “We’re very disappointed that a decision won’t be announced this week but understand that DCLG have other more pressing matters to deal with at the moment around flooding.

“This development has the potential to provide local people with a better retail offer on their doorstep as well as new jobs and a regenerated site that has become a blot on the landscape. We hope that a new announcement date comes soon.”

Andy Sawford, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, said: “I am very disappointed that the government has postponed the Rushden Lakes decision again.

“There is strong support from my constituents in East Northamptonshire for this development to go ahead.

“It will bring much needed jobs and a real boost to the local economy.

“I simply don’t understand why there is so much dither and delay from the Government.

“The planning inquiry was held last summer, it is time now to get on with it.

“I will be pressing the Government for its reasons for the delay and to confirm when the decision will be announced.”

If approved, Rushden Lakes will be developed on a 244-acre plot of brownfield land, with 31 acres of development land.

There would be a mixture of shops and leisure facilities, including a home and garden centre, shops on three terraces, space for up to four waterfront restaurants, a hotel and creche, a boathouse/activity centre and a lakeside visitors’ centre.

In October 2012, East Northamptonshire councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the development.

However, under planning rules, the application was referred to the Secretary of State who said the decision should be reviewed at a public inquiry.

During the 12-day hearing in July, planning inspector Harold Stephens heard from development and planning experts, MPs, district councillors and residents.

LXB and East Northamptonshire Council both argued for it to go ahead, while representatives employed by Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre and the consortium of Corby, Kettering and Northampton councils argued against it.