Decision on Rushden Lakes delayed

An artist's impression of Rushden Lakes
An artist's impression of Rushden Lakes

A decision over the £50m Rushden Lakes plans has been delayed again.

LXB Properties, the developers behind the multi-million pound plans, had been waiting to hear if the Secretary of State approved the development.

It was due to be made on or around Thursday, February 13, but it has just been announced it will be delayed and a new date is yet to be announced.

East Northamptonshire Council said it has been informed by the Department of Communities and Local Government that “the Secretary of State will not be in a position to reach a decision on the Rushden Lakes application by February 13.”

It is not yet known when a decision will be made.

Leader of East Northamptonshire Council Steven North said: “We’re very disappointed that a decision won’t be announced this week but understand that DCLG have other more pressing matters to deal with at the moment around flooding.

“This development has the potential to provide local people with a better retail offer on their doorstep as well as new jobs and a regenerated site that has become a blot on the landscape.

“We hope that a new announcement date comes soon.”

Cllr Sarah Peacock, leader of Rushden Town Council, said she was disappointed at the delay.

Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, said: “It’s disappointing that it has been delayed.

“But in the middle of a national emergency and people being flooded out of their homes, the department is working round the clock to protect people and I think it is highly imperative that the decision is put off.

“I know it’s a very important planning application but I absolutely understand the Secretary of State’s position.”

Mr Bone said he thought people in Rushden would understand the reason for the delay, and added: “I am sure the decision will be made in a few weeks.

“I am still 100 per cent behind this scheme and think it will get the green light.”

Andy Sawford, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, said: “I am very disappointed that the Government has postponed the Rushden Lakes decision again.

“There is strong support from my constituents in East Northamptonshire for this development to go ahead.

“It will bring much needed jobs and a real boost to the local economy.

“I simply don’t understand why there is so much dither and delay from the Government.

“The planning inquiry was held last summer, it is time now to get on with it.

“I will be pressing the Government for its reasons for the delay and to confirm when the decision will be announced.”

Helen Danzig, chairman of the Yes2RushdenLakes pressure group set up to rally support for the Rushden Lakes scheme, said: “I am gutted.

“I can’t believe they keep putting it back.

“It feels like it is being buried again, they have changed the deadline once already.

“How many more times will they keep putting it back?

“I am lost for words, it’s really disappointing.”

But she hopes the decision goes in their favour once a decision is made, and added: “I feel that it’s our time to shine, we have been in the shadows for too long.”

Richard Garvie, who is the Labour Party’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Wellingborough and Rushden, said: “This is a worrying development, and something that we were not expecting.

“It’s been 214 days now, and yet the Secretary of State insists that he needs more time to make a decision.

“Not only do the developers deserve an answer, the community have a right to know and other local towns have future development plans that may or may not rely on the outcome of this decision.”

Mr Garvie said he has written to the Secretary of State Eric Pickles for clarification on when the decision can now be expected.

Tom Pursglove, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Corby & East Northamptonshire, said: “The letter from the Secretary of State makes it clear that the application remains under careful consideration and implies that the decision will be reached as soon as possible.

“There is, however, a national emergency going on at the moment with the flooding situation and I know that Ministers and their officials are quite rightly focusing their efforts on saving people’s homes and doing everything they can to make sure that people are safe.

“Although this delay is frustrating for us all, I do entirely understand the circumstances behind it.

“I also appreciate all the support that local people have given to the Conservative Listening Campaign on this issue and we will keep leading the charge - I very much hope that the Secretary of State will, in due course, do the right thing and approve this development; we desperately need the new jobs, new shops and new leisure facilities that this scheme will bring.”

If approved, Rushden Lakes will be developed on a 244-acre plot of brownfield land, with 31 acres of development land.

There would be a mixture of shops and leisure facilities, including a home and garden centre, shops on three terraces, space for up to four waterfront restaurants, a hotel and creche, a boathouse/activity centre and a lakeside visitors’ centre.

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.