A further extension of Rushden Lakes has once again been contested by Northampton Borough Council – which has reiterated the harm it is having on its town centre.
Northampton councillors had protested against the retail park’s expansion already, raising ‘strong objections’ last October to a proposed 12,000sqm mixed use development over 29 units. That application has since been withdrawn, however.
But last night (July 30), the authority’s planning committee followed up with the same objections to a new proposal for an extra 5,600sqm (14 units) of mixed development. It is set to include food stores, restaurants and clothes shops – as well as a dental surgery and a creche.
A report before members of the committee read: “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.
“The North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy (2016) sets out a limit of 32,511sqm net retail sales area for the existing out-of-centre Rushden Lakes shopping complex. It is understood that this has already been exceeded by the previously permitted schemes and, accordingly, the proposed development would serve to exacerbate the impact of an out-of-centre development that is already not compliant with local planning policy.”
The new expansion area would be to the west of the existing Rushden Lakes site and to the east of Ditchford Road. It also features 160 parking spaces and a new link road between Ditchford Road and Rushden Lakes, meaning there would be an alternative access route into the retail park, complementing the existing entrance.
Councillors did seem resigned, however, to the lack of say they had over the proposals, as Northampton Borough Council is only being treated as a consultee on the application. Councillor Cathrine Russell asked what impact NBC raising objections would potentially have. Planning chairman Councillor Brian Oldham bluntly responded: “None at all.”