A campaign has been launched by the new Yes2RushdenLakes pressure group to rally support for the £50m leisure and shopping development.
Members of the group say it would provide a welcome jobs boost for Rushden and the surrounding towns and villages by providing employment for thousands of local people.
A planning inquiry due to start on June 25 is set to decide the fate of the lakes development following opposition from Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Bedford councils.
The group’s main aim is to get as many people as possible to write to the inspector to say the Rushden Lakes development is needed, and why.
At the launch this week, Lisa Simpson, 51, of Queen Street, Rushden, said: “The development will be fantastic for the area and it’s going to bring lots of jobs. This site has been derelict for years and I am fully behind the Lakes proposals. Most people I know in the town are right behind it.”
Maggie Burchell, 58, of Wilson Road, Rushden, said: “I have lived here for eight years and I work in Milton Keynes, so I have to drive most days.
“It would be great to have a development like this right on the doorstep in a location I could walk to.”
Babs Short, 68, of Birchall Road, Rushden, said: “I’m in favour of the development.
“It’s just what Rushden and the surrounding area needs and I welcome it with open arms. Everywhere else has an out-of-town shopping centre but we have nothing.”
Irthlingborough councillor Jon Gray, 54, said: “I support the scheme fully as it will bring prosperity to this whole area.
“It will really highlight Rushden and Irthlingborough which always seem to be forgotten about.”
Dorothy Farrar, wife of Irthlingborough’s mayor John, said: “It would be a great boost to the area to have this right on our doorstep.”
The chairman of the new Yes2RushdenLakes group is calling for people to write to the planning inspector and explain why Rushden Lakes must be approved at the inquiry in June.
Chairman Helen Danzig, 42, of Hever Close, Rushden, initially launched a Facebook page to show her support. She’s calling for people to get behind the campaign and show the inspector the level of support it has from local people.
The mum-of-two said: “I feel so strongly about this that I had to do something. I had to campaign. I feel very strongly about it because it’s my children’s future. Everyone I know thinks we definitely need this.
“This is one of the biggest things Rushden has ever had and there’s so much support for it.
“It’s such a great site, but at the moment you can’t even see it.
“It’s a hidden gem, but at the moment it’s just a mess. I have got no idea why the other councils and shopping centres would oppose it.
“Why are we not allowed to have a slice of the cake? We have supported them in the past, why won’t they support us?
“They are not going to lose out, they have still got plenty of customers.
“I have been handing out leaflets. The feedback I get is always brilliant – really positive.
“We want the public inquiry to approve Rushden Lakes. Supporters can help by writing to or emailing the planning inspectorate and explaining why Rushden Lakes must be approved.”
The group says Rushden Lakes would generate about 1,340 jobs directly and about 1,000 more indirectly, and that it also offers a bright future for thousands of unemployed workers in north Northamptonshire.