The £50m Rushden Lakes plans have been approved by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
LXB Properties, the developers behind the multi-million pound plans, have been waiting for months for a decision on the major shopping and leisure complex which will be built on a 244-acre plot of brownfield land, with 31 acres of development land.
It will have a mixture of shops and leisure facilities, including a home and garden centre, shops on three terraces, space for up to four waterfront restaurants, a hotel and creche, a boathouse/activity centre and a lakeside visitors’ centre.
Marks & Spencer has already signed up to be an anchor store if the complex just off the A45 near Rushden was approved.
Government minister Eric Pickles will be visiting the site today.
Mr Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will meet councillors, local campaigners and supporters of the Rushden Lakes proposal during a visit to the derelict site off the A45 at the request of Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, and Tom Pursglove, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Corby and East Northamptonshire.
Cllr Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, said he was delighted with the decision.
He added: “This is great news for East Northamptonshire as it will provide local people with a better retail offer on their doorstep as well as new jobs and a regenerated site that has become a blot on the landscape.
“The leisure opportunities will add to the Nene Valley project that encourages people to make the most of the river and help to give better access through a footbridge and cycleway across the A45.
“Rushden Lakes will complement rather than compete with the High Street, and many local retailers are keen to see this happen as it will bring more people to Rushden than ever before.”
Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone said local campaigns helped persuade the proposals get the green light.
In a statement he added: “This development will bring 2,000 new permanent jobs, major retail outlets including Marks & Spencer and exciting leisure facilities.
“This is extremely good news and like many local people, I am very excited about the benefits that this development will bring to our area. It is also testament to the efforts of many local people, including ‘Yes To Rushden Lakes’, who have campaigned so hard to help make this development happen, and in particular, I would like to thank all those who supported the Conservative Listening Campaign on this issue.
“After thirteen years of a Labour Government that delivered very little for East Northamptonshire, Conservative controlled East Northamptonshire Council and this Government have made this project happen. This is local evidence that the Prime Minister’s Long Term Economic Plan is working.
“Given this great news, it is now even more pressing that the A45 is dualled between Stanwick and Thrapston and that the Chowns Mill Roundabout is finally sorted out.”
Corby and East Northants MP Andy Sawford said: “I am very pleased that Rushden Lakes has finally been given the go-ahead.
“This will provide a great boost to jobs and the economy in East Northamptonshire and I have strongly supported the development.
“I gave evidence at the inquiry and have consistently pushed for a decision to be made. After a year’s delay I hope we can now get on with the development as soon as possible.
“I have always been mindful that the Rushden Lakes development will bring challenges to existing town centres across the county but it would not have been right to block this important opportunity for people in East Northamptonshire. I want all our town centres to succeed in the five towns that I represent and I will do my best to support them in the future.”
Tom Pursglove, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Corby and East Northants said: “The decision to grant planning permission for the Rushden Lakes development is a huge boost for our area.
“Local people have campaigned vigorously for this development and this victory is testament to their efforts – particularly those of ‘Yes to Rushden Lakes’.”
Wellingborough and Rushden’s Labour candidate Richard Garvie said: “I am absolutely delighted that we will be getting this investment in Rushden, and I really hope that there will be a jobs scheme to help local people into these jobs like we saw with the Tesco scheme in Corby and its partnership with Tresham College and local authorities.
“While this is great news for jobs and investment, we now need to ensure that there is a proper plan in place for regenerating our high streets and ensuring that our town centres survive and thrive.”
East Northamptonshire councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the development back in October 2012.
But, under planning rules, the application was referred to the Secretary of State who said the decision should be reviewed at a public inquiry.
During the 12-day hearing in July, planning inspector Harold Stephens heard from development and planning experts, MPs, district councillors and residents.
LXB and East Northamptonshire Council both argued for it to go ahead, while representatives employed by Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre and the consortium of Corby, Kettering and Northampton councils argued against it.
However, the decision was delayed after the planning inspector suffered an injury, leaving him unable to work.
After the planning inspector’s report had been submitted, a decision was due to be made in mid February but this was delayed as Mr Pickles was called in to help with the flooding which affected many parts of the country.
The result was then delayed yet again when Mr Pickles asked for further representations from interested parties to be made by the end of March.