The Lakes could be key to future jobs

Artist's impression'More than 20 leading UK retail chains, including a large Marks & Spencer, will fill a new �50m shopping park planned to open near Rushden. 'The Rushden Lakes centre will provide 1,500 jobs,  bring several household name stores to the area and potentially attract 3 million visitors a year .

Artist's impression'More than 20 leading UK retail chains, including a large Marks & Spencer, will fill a new �50m shopping park planned to open near Rushden. 'The Rushden Lakes centre will provide 1,500 jobs, bring several household name stores to the area and potentially attract 3 million visitors a year .

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Jobcentre bosses have given their backing for a new £50m shopping park which would provide 1,630 jobs.

The Rushden Lakes proposal for the Skew Bridge site, off the A45, has been welcomed by managers of the Wellingborough and Rushden Jobcentres, who say it could transform the area.

Some people have expressed fear s for the future of Kettering and Wellingborough town centres if the scheme goes ahead.

If it is approved by East Northamptonshire Councillors in June, the development would include 20 new shops, a garden centre, a drive-through restaurant, a gatehouse, a lakeside visitor centre, restaurants, a boat house and a lock.

Work created would include 290 construction jobs during the building phase and 1,340 retail jobs.

Wellingborough and Rushden JobCentre figures show there are more than enough applicants locally to fill these positions, with a total of 3,387 jobless people across the towns – 1,113 in Rushden and 2,274 in Wellingborough – and that 1,114 have expressed a specific interest in working in the retail industry, while 228 require construction work.

Alan Gordon-Smith, manager of Rushden Jobcentre Plus, said: “There is no question that between ourselves and the Wellingborough JobCentre Plus, we have the skills and capacity to supply Rushden Lakes with a significant amount of fit-for-purpose labour should the scheme progress.”

Sonia Rea, manager of Wellingborough Jobcentre Plus, added: “A scheme like Rushden Lakes could have a transformational effect on Wellingborough as well as Rushden.

“The Rushden and Wellingborough offices will work together to capture the potentially significant local employment benefits to our areas.”

Gavin Stollar, spokesman for LXB Retail Properties, the company behind the development, said: “If the Rushden Lakes scheme were to proceed, the employment benefits not only to Rushden and Wellingborough but also to the surrounding north Northamptonshire towns would be significant.

“We are working to ensure that the employment and economic benefits are captured in Rushden, Wellingborough and the surrounding areas.

“It is clear that there are the people locally to fill the jobs we hope to create.”

Val Barham, of Tennyson Road, Rushden, said: “I definitely agree that it will be a big boost to the area. A lot of people were made redundant when the shoe factories closed, and a lot of people still haven’t got jobs.”

Steve Purcell, of Northampton Road, Kettering, said: “The jobs have got to be a welcome relief. We’ve just lost all those jobs in Corby so it has got to be good for the area.

“It will be nice to see something done with that site because it has been an eyesore. I’m not sure whether or not it will be good for the town centres.”

Eileen Burnett, of Wellingborough, said: “If they keep to their word and provide the amount of jobs they say they are going to provide then I think it will be a good thing for the jobs market.

“I think it will be nice to have all those shops on our doorstep.”