North Northamptonshire councils fighting Rushden Lakes’ expansion plans say if the scheme is granted it could lead to their towns becoming ‘dysfunctional’ and less attractive to developers and residents.
In a letter being sent to the Secretary of State for local government James Brokenshire, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Northampton councils have come out strongly against the latest application for the out-of-town shopping mecca.
Corby councillors on the development control committee all backed the proposal last night (Tuesday) to join the Rushden Lakes protest and ask the Secretary of State to call in the application currently lodged with East Northants Council for a decision.
The letter, which is understood to have been drafted by officers from Wellingborough Council, is very damning of the impact the scheme for 29 small units being proposed by LXB could have on the towns.
They say it could unbalance the retail offer and even lead to decay of their towns.
The letter says: “North Northamptonshire has embraced the growth agenda, contributing to a substantial increase in housing delivery throughout the area.
“With weakened town centres, our towns will become dysfunctional, making investment less attractive to both developers and residents.”
The first phase of the shopping scheme was granted in 2014 after being ‘called in’ to the secretary of state following opposition from neighbouring councils.
At the time Wellingborough Council had backed the plans but the latest ‘Rushden Living’ application appears to be a step too far.
The letter, which references an estimation from LXB that Rushden Lakes has led to a 17 per cent drop in shopping turnover in Wellingborough, says: “Whilst other councils objected to the original scheme and have maintained objections to further additions, Borough Council of Wellingborough in contrast has previously supported the creation of Rushden Lakes, as the retail offer was considered to be markedly different from that in Wellingborough and proposed to provide increased choice and accessibility to local residents.
“However there is now a shift towards smaller units that are in more direct competition to the town centre.
“In particular the proposed development is targeting local independent producers, which is a key objective to seek for the town centres.”
Since opening in July 2017, Rushden Lakes has been hugely successful, drawing shoppers from across the county as well as from further afield.
A 14-screen cinema is set to open next year as well as many more big brand eateries.