A controversial shopping development in Northamptonshire that was approved on appeal by Secretary of State Eric Pickles, has been sold to The Crown Estate, the profits of which go to the Treasury.
The Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure scheme was approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government despite objections by Northampton Borough Council and Legal & General, owners of the Grosvenor Centre.
Both the borough and L&G had concerns about the impact of the scheme on shops in Northampton. Other nearby towns also criticised the scheme.
In June last year, Mr Pickles confirmed that the £140 million scheme would go ahead following a 12-day planning appeal hearing.
Today it has been revealed that The Crown Estate has bought the site from existing owner, LXB Retail Properties PLC, and will fund the development. The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business that was established by an Act of Parliament. One hundred percent of its profits are returned to the Treasury. In the last financial year, its returns were £267 million.
Work is due to start towards the end of 2015 and will create about 400,000 square foot of retail and restaurant space.
Rushden Lakes will be the first in a new generation of shopping parks, setting an entirely new standard for the retail and leisure experience offered by assets of this typeHannah Milne, regional portfolio manager, The Crown Estate
Retailers such as H&M, Costa and M&S are already confirmed for the site.
A spokeswoman said: “It is estimated that the scheme will create around 2,500 jobs, directly and indirectly, through the construction phase, and through jobs in the retail and catering sector once the park has been built.”
Hannah Milne, regional portfolio manager at The Crown Estate, said: “Rushden Lakes will be the first in a new generation of shopping parks, setting an entirely new standard for the retail and leisure experience offered by assets of this type. “We will see industry-leading names coming to Rushden Lakes, many of which will never have traded out of town before, which really demonstrates the scheme’s quality.
“The development will create a fantastic new asset for the local area, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, hundreds of jobs, and revitalising this unique site for the benefit of visitors from across the Midlands.”
Jon McCarthy, LXB Adviser, said: “From conception, the Rushden Lakes project is something that LXB are very proud to be associated with. It is important to us that we work with partners who understand the vision behind Rushden Lakes and in The Crown Estate we have found the perfect partner to help deliver this ground-breaking project.
“LXB will remain responsible for delivering the scheme and will ensure continuity for the community and local stakeholders.”