A decision over the £50m Rushden Lakes development has been delayed again.
LXB Properties, the developers behind the multi-million pound plans, had been waiting to hear if the Secretary of State approved the development on or around Thursday, February 13.
However, it was confirmed just days before this that the Secretary of State would not be in a position to reach a decision by this date.
It has been announced today that extra time has been given to allow parties the chance to submit written representations to the Secretary of State before a final decision is made.
Any representations must be made by March 31 and then the Secretary of State will circulate these representations for comment, giving a further seven days within which final comments must be made.
Once these comments have been circulated, the Secretary of State will make his final decision.
Parties have been asked to submit written representations related to two issues: the new planning practice guidance in relation to ensuring the vitality of town centres issued on March 6 and any implications for the planning balance in this case, and also any material change in circumstances, fact or policy, which may have arisen since the inquiry closed on July 12 and which parties consider relevant to the determination of the application.
Following the further delay, Steven North, leader of East Northamptonshire Council, said: “We’re all keen to hear the Secretary of State’s decision on this application and hope that it is the right result for East Northamptonshire.
“It’s really important that the benefits of this development are understood – jobs for local people, a better retail and leisure destination and a regenerated site that has become a blot on the landscape.”
Richard Garvie, the Labour Party Parliamentary candidate in Wellingborough and Rushden, said: “The Department for Communities & Local Government have had ample time to make a decision on this development, and this further delay once again creates uncertainty.
“The developer deserves a prompt decision, as do our local authorities who have put on hold further decisions about potential developments until a decision has been made.
“I truly hope that this further work will allow the department to make a final decision in the coming months, and hope that a decision date will be announced fairly quickly.”
If approved, Rushden Lakes will be developed on a 244-acre plot of brownfield land, with 31 acres of development land.
There would be 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.
In October 2012, East Northamptonshire councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the development.
However, 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.