Legal & General say Rushden retail park will harm Grosvenor Centre expansion plans

Artist's impression More than 20 leading UK retail chains, including a large Marks & Spencer, will fill a new �50m shopping park planned to open near Rushden.  The Rushden Lakes centre will provide 1,500 jobs,  bring several household name stores to the area and potentially attract 3 million visitors a year .
Artist's impression More than 20 leading UK retail chains, including a large Marks & Spencer, will fill a new �50m shopping park planned to open near Rushden. The Rushden Lakes centre will provide 1,500 jobs, bring several household name stores to the area and potentially attract 3 million visitors a year .

THE OWNERS of Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre have claimed plans to build a retail park 15 miles away in Rushden would “significantly compromise” its plans to expand the shopping centre.

After years of delays, plans for the Grosvenor Centre expansion are finally moving forwards, with a planning application for the development due to be submitted to Northampton Borough Council by the centre’s owners, Legal & General, later this year.

But the firm has warned that plans to build 20 shops, a garden centre and a drive-through restaurant off the A45 in Rushden could scupper the Northampton scheme.

In documents objecting to the plan, property consultant Drivers Jonas Deloitte, which works on behalf of Legal & General, warned the Rushden development could suck thousands of shoppers and millions of pounds out of Northampton.

The firm said: “The Rushden Lakes proposal will be a significant threat to the viability of the Grosvenor Centre and could critically undermine its future delivery, jeopardising an investment in excess of £400 million.”

Speaking to the Chron yesterday, Legal & General’s head of retail development, Simon Russian, also labelled the Rushden scheme a “major threat” to Northampton.

He said: “It will threaten Northampton without a shadow of a doubt. It’s only a 15-minute drive from the east of Northampton and will pull people in from that side of town. So it’s a great concern, not only to the Grosvenor Centre, but the whole of Northampton town centre.”

Plans to redevelop the Grosvenor Centre were first revealed in 2000. Following a recent push from Legal & General, it is hoped work will begin in 2014 and be finished by 2017. The expansion is due to feature 57 new shops, a hotel, new housing and a large new department store.

It is believed the £50 million Rushden scheme would feature a large Marks & Spencer as one of its flagship stores.

But the idea the scheme could harm Northampton has been rubbished by the firm behind the Rushden plan.

Jon McCarthy from developers LXB said: “The spending our project would claw back to Rushden from places like Northampton or Milton Keynes is important for the sustainability of Rushden, but it’s not significant in terms of Northampton town centre’s prospects for growth.”

Over the past year, Legal & General has also objected to plans to convert the former Royal Mail sorting office in Barrack Road into a Tesco, proposals to extend the Tesco at Mereway and plans for the expansion of the Sainsbury’s supermarket in Weedon Road.