Experts claim Northampton should have been considered for retail park as Rushden alternative

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OFFICIALS from Northampton Borough Council have added their opposition to plans to build a new retail park in Rushden, claiming the development could have come to Northampton instead.

Both the owners of the Grosvenor Centre and the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation have objected to plans to build 20 new shops eight miles away from Northampton, claiming the move would suck trade out of the town.

Now, officials from the borough council’s planning department have backed the call, arguing the Rushden scheme could cut trade in Northampton by as much as 15 per cent by 2016.

A report which will be seen by the council’s planning committee on May 1, argued the developers should have considered Northampton as an alternative location.

It said: “Given the nature of the proposals, their proximity to Northampton and the quality of the road network, it is clear that the zone of influence would extend into the catchment of, and compete for trade with, the town centre.

“Put simply, when assessing alternative sites, the applicants should have examined Northampton.”

The £50 million Rushden Lakes project is due to create more than 1,500 jobs. The plan includes 20 shops, a garden centre, a visitor centre, a hotel, restaurants and a boat house.

The suggestion it could impact on Northampton has been rubbished by business leaders in Rushden.

The chairman of the Rushden Chamber of Trade, Adrian House, said: “With all the sites Northampton have got it’s very sad they can’t look after their own patch and allow us a little bit. It’s rich they have the gall to object.”

Rushden’s Conservative MP, Peter Bone, added: “I find their attitude extremely disappointing. They have no God given right for everything to go there.”

The borough council’s planning committee will consider their views on the scheme next week. A final decision on the project’s future will then be made by East Northamptonshire District Council.