Final Lakes decision to be made by December

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A final decision about Rushden Lakes is expected to be announced in December following the planning inquiry, which will begin tomorrow (Tuesday, June 25).

The inquiry will take place at East Northamptonshire Council’s Thrapston headquarters.

The programme for the inquiry has now been confirmed and is available to view on the East Northamptonshire Council website.

A spokesman for East Northants Council said: “At the inquiry, the planning inspector will hear from members of the public, local business owners, neighbouring councils, politicians and planning specialists on why they think the development should or should not go ahead.

“Members of the public are welcome to attend the inquiry but on-site parking will be limited and there is restricted seating in the council chamber where the inquiry will take place.

“There are 35 public seats and 10 standing places available for each morning and afternoon session, and tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis. They are free of charge and a waiting list will be maintained in the event that demand exceeds availability.

“Anyone wishing to attend any of the sessions should contact the council’s Customer Services team on 01832 742121. Please note that timings listed in the programme may change at short notice as the inquiry proceeds. Reserved tickets for each session will be available half an hour before the start time listed in the programme.

“On Tuesday, July 9, there will be an evening session at Huxlow Science Academy in Irthlingborough where members of the public will have the chance to speak. Again, tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis and they are free of charge. To reserve your seat, please contact the council’s Customer Services team on 01832 742121. Speakers on that night do not need to reserve a seat and doors will open at 7pm.”

In October 2012, East Northamptonshire Councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the development of the old Skew Bridge Country Club and dry ski slope site on the edge of Rushden.

Under planning rules, the application was referred to the Secretary of State who determined that the decision should be reviewed at a public inquiry. Harold Stephens, the allocated Planning Inspector, will preside over the inquiry.

Mr Stephens has reserved a potential 12 sitting days for the process.

The application proposes to develop on a 244 acre plot of brownfield land, with 31 acres of development land, sitting alongside the A45 on the edge of Rushden. The proposal is for a mixture of retail and leisure use, including a home and garden centre, retail units across three terraces, a drive-through restaurant, space for up to four waterfront restaurants and a hotel and crèche.

As the current site forms part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Wildlife Trust would take on the long-term management of wildlife and the green environment. This would be integrated into the retail scheme creating a leisure destination providing a boathouse/activity centre and visitor centre, improved footpaths and cycle routes through the SSSI, access to neighbouring tourist attractions such as Stanwick Lakes and a lakeside visitor centre

Full details of the planning application can be found on the East Northamptonshire Council’s planning site, www.eastnorthamptonshire.gov.uk/planning; application number 12/00010/FUL.