Bedford Council won’t attend Rushden Lakes inquiry

Artist's impression of �1m bridge at proposed Rushden Lakes scheme
Artist's impression of �1m bridge at proposed Rushden Lakes scheme

One of the councils opposing the Rushden Lakes development has backed out of appearing at the public inquiry into whether the scheme should be allowed to go ahead.

Bedford Borough Council still plans to write to the planning inspector to voice its opposition to the application, but will not be formally represented at the hearing.

Northampton, Corby and Kettering Councils say they still intend to be represented at the inquiry, which will start at East Northamptonshire Council’s Thrapston headquarters on June 25.

The local authorities have opposed the proposed £50m development for the Skew Bridge site, which would bring about 2,000 jobs to the Rushden area.

The retail and leisure complex would include 20 shops, a garden centre, a lakeside visitor centre and restaurants.

In a letter to the planning inspector, Paul Rowland, assistant director at Bedford Council, said: “The council has reviewed its position to this matter and decided that it would prefer to pursue its case through written representation only.”

Northampton Borough Council claims that building the proposed development in Rushden would damage Northampton town centre.

Cllr David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “We firmly believe that the scale of the development proposed at Rushden Lakes would have a potentially damaging effect on Northampton town centre and on other towns in the area.

“The regeneration of Northampton is really moving forward and we are attracting major investment, with the opportunity for significant growth that would have real benefits for the economy of the wider region.

“We will be attending the inquiry to present our case and we are pleased that Bedford Borough Council and other councils in Northamptonshire are supporting the case against this development.”

Kettering Council deputy chief executive Martin Hammond said: “We are going ahead as planned. Kettering, Northampton and Corby Councils are going to be represented at the inquiry.”

The Telegraph last week reported that Irthlingborough, Rushden and Higham Ferrers town councils joined forces to show their support for the Lakes development.

A Rushden Lakes Facebook group was also launched this week. It has already received more than 900 ‘likes’ from users. To find the page, search Rushden Lakes on Facebook.