Lakes plan could include a 200-acre nature reserve

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The company behind the Rush­den Lakes leisure and retail park development has announced plans for a 200-acre nature reserve on the site which will be managed by the Wildlife Trust.

The Skew Bridge site is made up of over 250 acres, of which 32 acres will be the new leisure, tourism and retail development.

LXB Properties, which owns the land, has confirmed that 200 acres of lakes and meadows will be opened to the public as a visitor attraction if it gets planning permission from East Northamptonshire Council for the wider scheme.

The nature conservation site has become a target for illegal off-road vehicles in recent years, but LXB has been in discussions with Natural England since buying the land for about £5m last year, with a view to restoring the nature value of the site and opening it to the public.

Development director at LXB Jon McCarthy said: “We are committed to funding £300,000 of paths for the new reserve, and a further £300,000 for a fantastic sustainable visitor centre.”

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire is also in discussions with LXB about taking space in a new visitors’ centre which aims to enhance the visitor experience of the proposed development.

Chairman Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey said: “If we can successfully fund the costs of the visitors’ centre, this will be an important opportunity for the trust.”