Rushden Lakes expansion plan deferred as 'politically sensitive'

Rushden Living is being proposed on green land to the West of the exiting Rushden Lakes complex.
Rushden Living is being proposed on green land to the West of the exiting Rushden Lakes complex.

A decision about whether or not to increase the number of shops at Rushden Lakes has been deferred because of ‘political sensitivity’.

East Northamptonshire Council’s monitoring officer Barbara Morris made the decision to advise councillors to defer their decision about Rushden Living g, only the day before the planning meeting, due to the impending general election.

Plan of the Rushden Living proposal.

Plan of the Rushden Living proposal.

The plan for the Rushden Living development had been set for refusal after planning officers had given a number of reasons for the elected councillors to deny the plan by Anonymous Ltd to build more shops, restaurants and leisure facilities at land to the west of Rushden Lakes.

At the meeting on Wednesday night (Nov 20) the planning committee immediately deferred the application without any discussion.

An ENC spokesman said: “Officers recommended deferral until a future meeting of the Planning Management Committee, following advice received from the Council’s Monitoring Officer on 19/11/2019 as it was considered that the agenda item could be argued to be politically sensitive and as such should not be dealt with during the parliamentary Pre-election (Purdah) period. At the Committee Meeting on 20/11/2019, members resolved to defer the application.”

Rushden Lakes has been a political football since well before its opening. It was given planning approval by the Secretary of State after neighbouring councils wanted the out-of- town shopping centre refused because of the impact it would have on their towns.

However Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and Corby MP Tom Pursglove lobbied in favour of the development, which has proved to be a big retail success since opening in 2017.

However it has caused big problems on the nearby road network with nearby businesses such as Waitrose appealing against the Rushden Living expansion.

The land Anonymous Ltd wants to build on is now owned by Crown Estates – which bought Rushden Lakes in 2015. They are considering their own development plans for the site.