D-day looms for £50m Rushden Lakes plan

Marks & Spencer has signed up to be a flagship store at Rushden Lakes
Marks & Spencer has signed up to be a flagship store at Rushden Lakes

A decision over the £50m Rushden Lakes development could be announced any day now.

It is due to be made on or around Thursday, February 13, with developers LXB Properties and campaigners eager to hear if they have won the support of the Secretary of State.

But opponents to the plans, including Northampton, Kettering and Corby borough councils and Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre, will also want to know if the scheme for land off the A45 at Skew Bridge has been given the go-ahead.

Leader of Rushden Town Council Sarah Peacock said: “We are just waiting with positive anticipation and hope Mr Pickles will look on the inspector’s report favourably.

“I don’t think we have had anything that has had such overwhelming support like this.

“It’s about Rushden, it’s about East Northamptonshire, and providing jobs and security for a lot of people around here.

“Hopefully it will keep the business and the business spend in the towns because that’s how we prosper.

“There’s a lot of work going on with future plans for the town and this is part of that jigsaw.

“Rushden Lakes is something that we need that will boost East Northants as well as the town.

“We are always something that gets bypassed.”

Cllr Peacock said creating jobs was a major part of the plans, especially as so many have been lost with the demise of the boot and shoe industry in the area.

But that the Lakes would bring so much more to Rushden than this, with a home and garden centre, space for up to four waterfront restaurants, a hotel and creche, a boathouse/activity centre and a lakeside visitors’ centre for people of all ages to enjoy.

She added: “Normally it is the silent majority who don’t speak.

“But this is a real turnaround because we have got the majority who want it and have been very vocal.”

Helen Danzig, chairman of the Yes2RushdenLakes group set up to rally support, said: “We think we have fought a really good fight.

“Everyone will be gutted if it doesn’t go through.”

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.

For all the latest news on Rushden Lakes and whether it gets the go-ahead, keep visiting our website