Northampton authority agrees to raise ‘strong objections’ to Rushden Lakes extension

Rushden Lakes from the air (picture by John Bancroft)
Rushden Lakes from the air (picture by John Bancroft)

Northampton Borough Council has raised ‘strong objections’ to the extension of Rushden Lakes as it fears the latest scheme could inflict further harm on Northampton town centre.

The authority’s planning committee yesterday agreed to follow officer advice and ask for a ‘call-in’ of the development, which it wants to see determined by the Secretary of State.

This latest application would see the extension of the complex to the west to provide nearly 12,000sqm of mixed use development over 29 units.

This would include space for retail, restaurants, physiotherapy/leisure floorspace and office and industrial space.

A report before councillors at The Guildhall meeting last night (October 23) stated that ‘the new and existing provisions would effectively turn Rushden Lakes into a town centre in its own right’.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Brian Oldham, chairman of the planning committee, said: “It cannot be dismissed that it wouldn’t have a serious impact on the town.

“The town is fighting to do its best and move on and a development like this right on its doorstep is bound to have a detrimental effect.

“And quite frankly it may have more objections from other neighbouring authorities as well, but for the benefit of Northamptonians we need to be seen that we’re not going to lie down on this.”

This is the latest in a series of objections the borough council has raised against the leisure and retail park.

Northampton Borough Council had objected to the scheme in its early stages, but after a public inquiry the project was approved by the then Secretary of State Eric Pickles in 2014, with the first phase of the development opening last July.

Since then the development ‘is already beginning to have an impact on shopping patterns in Northampton’ according to a recent retail study by the borough council.

It found that specifically for clothing and footwear, Rushden Lakes is absorbing 9.3 per cent of Northampton residents’ expenditure.

The council papers added: “It is clear that the decision to grant permission for Rushden Lakes has already had a negative impact on Northampton town centre’s viability and vitality, including local consumer choice and trade.”

Last night the borough’s planning committee decided to follow officer advice, but voted to alter the wording so that the council would be raising ‘strong’ objections.

Cllr Oldham said: “That wording was down to me.

“I do feel very strongly about it so I just put it in that I thought we should insert the word to raise ‘strong’ objections, and the committee supported that.

“In the main, I think we speak for the majority of people in Northampton that these sort of things are not for the benefit of our town centre.”