Campaigners have just a matter of weeks to wait to find out whether the £50m Rushden Lakes plans have been given the go-ahead.
The decision is due to be made on or around February 13, with LXB Properties, the developers behind the multi-million pound plans, hoping the Secretary of State gives the green light for the development.
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.
Jon McCarthy, development director at LXB Properties, said: “2013 was the year when Rushden, Irthlingborough, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough, Irchester, Raunds, Stanwick, Thrapston and all the surrounding towns and villages spoke with one voice in support of Rushden Lakes.
“We feel confident that 2014 will be the year that the Government responds saying ‘Yes to Rushden Lakes’ which will allow us to turn our vision for Skew Bridge into reality.”
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.
Marks & Spencer signs up
The Telegraph recently reported that Marks & Spencer has signed up to be an anchor store at Rushden Lakes if the £50m scheme gets the go-ahead.
The major chain signed on the dotted line in the same week that the report following the public inquiry was submitted to the Secretary of State.
It was delayed after the planning inspector suffered an injury, leaving him unable to work.