Strong objection to Lakes proposal

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A COUNCIL has said it will object to the planned £50m Rushden Lakes complex in the “strongest possible” way.

Members of Kettering Council’s planning committee voted unanimously on Tuesday night to object to the proposed development at the former Skew Bridge site in Rushden.

Chairman of the committee, Shirley Lynch, said: “The council will do everything it can to protect its town centres.”

At the meeting, members of the planning committee raised concerns that the retail offer at Rushden Lakes could be larger than Leicester’s Fosse Park, one of the country’s biggest out-of-town developments.

Members were also worried that job losses as a result of the development would be on such a scale they would cancel out employment created at Rushden Lakes.

Developers LXB said the development, if successful, will create 1,500 jobs.

The proposal includes 20 new shops, a garden centre, drive-through restaurant, visitor centre, hotel and restaurants at Skew Bridge, off the A45.

They have also proposed a £1m bridge over the A45 for shoppers.

The plans will be decided by East Northamptonshire Council later this summer, and Kettering follows in the footsteps of Corby, Wellingborough and Northampton councils in objecting.

Tom Shields, development manager, said: “The consequence of permitting the Rushden Lakes application would be to absorb all the identified future expenditure capacity in the town centres in north Northamptonshire for the next 10 years.”

At a previous planning policy committee meeting earlier this month, concern was expressed that the application was contrary to the national “town centres first” planning policy and the Local Development Plan.

The council claims that if the proposal is passed despite being contrary to development criteria, it will make it impossible to renew the existing Local Development Plan, which also includes plans for housing.

LXB has said it will look to extend the number 49 bus that covers the route between Kettering, Irthlingborough, and Rushden, so it serves the site where the shopping complex will be built.

But councillors concluded that the application was seriously flawed and, if approved in its current state, would be open to legal challenges.