The views of hundreds of people who went to see the latest Rushden Lakes plans saw 98 per cent of written comments in favour of the updated designs.
A series of images of the updated plans for the multi-million pound retail and leisure scheme just off the A45 at Rushden went on show during a three-day exhibition at Rushden Hall last month.
The updated plans could see a 12-screen cinema run by Cineworld, bowling alley, additional restaurants and an indoor climbing area incorporated into the scheme.
The images at the consultation were provided by Hampshire-based architects HPW, who are the project architects and lead consultants.
They have previously worked with LXB, the developers behind the £55 million scheme, on a project at Bicester, and Rushden Lakes will be the biggest project assigned to the team in the company’s 29-year history.
Gary Wilburn, director of design and sustainability at HPW, said that although only 30 acres are to be developed on the site within a Special Protection Area, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area, meetings with various national environmental organisations have demonstrated that LXB Retail Properties Plc can enhance the brownfield site that has been vacant for 25 years.
We wanted a team that could mirror and improve the success at BicesterJon McCarthy
Mr Wilburn said: “It’s been an amazing project so far that has required various degrees of foresight, patience and determination, not to mention thousands of drawings to help meet the requirements, not just for the natural environment, but also for the changing commercial environment and demands from the retail and leisure sector.”
With more than 750 people attending the recent public consultation and 98 per cent of the written comments being positive, it seems that people are in favour of the updated scheme.
And Jon McCarthy, principal at LXB Retail Properties, says that working with HPW on a major award-winning garden centre project in 2007 at Bicester proved that the team could deliver the Rushden Lakes project.
He said: “We wanted a team that could mirror and improve the success at Bicester and include their flair for contemporary architecture and a natural sympathy to the environment.”
A host of big names including Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, H&M and Primark have already signed up to the scheme, with negotiations continuing to fill the remaining units.
A planning application for the updated plans is expected to be submitted to East Northants Council in the coming months and is likely to be heard by the planning committee early next year.
Work on the former Skew Bridge site is well under way, with the site being prepared ready for construction to start early next spring.
It is hoped the first phase of the Rushden Lakes scheme will be ready to open in spring 2017, and if the cinema plans are approved, building for that phase of the development could begin in summer 2017.