The Northamptonshire councils opposing the £50m Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure park are preparing to make their case at the planning inquiry to decide the fate of the proposed development.
Corby, Kettering and Northampton borough councils are all against the plans, which would bring a number of high street stores, a garden centre, restaurants, a hotel and more than 2,000 jobs to the Rushden area.
Cllr Russell Roberts, leader of Kettering Council, said: “With regards to Rushden Lakes, the proposal is contrary to national and local planning policy, which state that out-of-town retail should not be approved if it would either have a long-term adverse or significant adverse impact on town centres.”
Cllr David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Council, said: “We firmly believe the scale of the development proposed at Rushden Lakes would have a damaging effect on town centres across Northamptonshire and the wider region and would stifle plans for further retail development in the town centres of Kettering, Corby and Northampton.
“This proposal is contrary to both local and national planning policies, which say that out-of-town retail should not be approved if it would have a significant negative impact on town centres – and it is estimated that this development would reduce trade in Northampton alone by an estimated 17.9 per cent.
“Along with Corby, Kettering and Bedford borough councils we are firmly opposing this proposal, which is against the interests of job creation and regeneration in each of our towns. We look forward to making our case at the planning inquiry.”
Cllr Tom Beattie, leader of Corby Council, said: “Corby and Northampton are working hard to build up their town centres which are central to our community life. We want to see thriving town centres that carry on attracting inward investment and jobs. We believe Rushden Lakes development would put this at risk.”
But Jon McCarthy, development director at LXB Retail Properties, the company behind the proposed development, recently spoke about the potential economic benefits the scheme would provide for the county.
He said: “This development would claw back £100m of leakage which is spent every year by people in Rushden and the surrounding area who get in their cars and drive to Milton Keynes or Bedford.”
The project was approved by East Northamptonshire Council last October but the Government will now make a final decision after Corby, Kettering and Northampton borough councils opposed the plan.