The Grosvenor Centre is to get a £3 million makeover but its owners are no closer to announcing when its long-awaited expansion will take place.
Legal & General has announced a swathe of works, which will start next month and are due to be completed by September 2014.
They include new entrance canopies, refurbished toilets and updated ceilings, lighting, flooring, lifts and signage, which the firm said represented a “major commitment” to the town centre.
Responding to the announcement, Northampton South MP Brian Binley has challenged the firm to start expanding as soon as possible after the conclusion of an inquiry into the Rushden Lakes retail park, at Skew Bridge.
Legal & General is opposed to Rushden Lakes as it said it threatened its own plans for the Grosvenor Centre. The firm has put its plans on hold during the inquiry.
Mr Binley said: “I understand the issue with Rushden Lakes. Hopefully after it is finished, Legal & General will quickly start to do what they promised to do in 1999. I am more hopeful now than I have been for some time.”
Simon Russian, Legal & General’s head of retail development, said: “Anyone who followed the planning inquiry will know how seriously L&G takes this threat to Northampton town centre. The costs of representation at an 11-day hearing alone could only be justified if there was a significant risk of harm to the centre of Northampton, and therefore the Grosvenor Centre.
“In the meantime, we are demonstrating our commitment to the Grosvenor Centre’s retailers and the people of Northampton by aiming to give them the best possible shopping environment within the existing scheme.
“I understand residents and businesses in Northampton may be impatient for an answer on the extension plans, however, they should be reassured that, when retail developments across the UK have been scrapped during the major economic downturn, L&G has continued to invest in the Grosvenor Centre.”