The proposed £50m Rushden Lakes shopping centre would “claw back £100m of leakage” which is currently spent every year outside the county, according to the developer.
Business people attended a free breakfast briefing organised by Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce on Friday, June 7, about the economic benefits of two major developments planned for Wellingborough and East Northants.
Jon McCarthy, from LXB Properties, which is promoting the Rushden Lakes retail and leisure development at the town’s Skew Bridge, told more than 50 delegates at the meeting staged at Wellingborough Old Grammarians: “This development would claw back £100m of leakage which is spent every year by people in Rushden and the surrounding area who get in their cars and drive to Milton Keynes or Bedford.”
Mr McCarthy said building the planned shops, restaurants, hotel, coffee shop, garden centre and community centre would create more than 370 construction jobs and up to 2,000 retail jobs once completed.
The project had been approved by East Northamptonshire Council in October but the government will now make a final decision with a planning inquiry starting on June 25 after Corby, Kettering and Northampton borough councils opposed the plan, claiming it would affect their towns.
Mr McCarthy said it was likely a decision would be made by November and if given the go ahead work could potentially start in May 2014.
James Wright, from Prologis, the developer behind the expansion of the Park Farm Industrial Estate at the Appleby Lodge site, also spoke at the meeting. He said the 1.5M, 200,000 sq ft development, which would be accessed off Sywell Road, would create 2,500 jobs and if planning permission was given work could start in 2015.
Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, said the plans were “exciting” and represented private finance investing in the public good.
He said: “I have never had a single issue that has attracted so much support. I have had thousands of people write to me and only three have objected.”
Concerns over congestion and low-paid jobs were addressed as people had the opportunity to quiz the developers. Both developers urged supporters of the project to send emails and write letters to the planning inspector to add to the 800 already received, saying the exercise would be ”hugely helpful”.
The event was sponsored by commercial property specialists Prop-Search, which has offices in Wellingborough, Northampton and Milton Keynes and provides holistic advice, focusing heavily on applicants and their specific requirements.
Prop-Search director Simon Toseland said the meeting was a “healthy demonstration of support for the prosperity and investment in our region through development”.
Chamber president Alan Piggot said: “I think it would be crazy if this was turned down. We don’t want to be the town left behind by Kettering and Corby. It is not only important for our businesses but also for our children.”