It may have been a long time coming, but the hard work has paid off for the developer behind the £140 million Rushden Lakes scheme.
LXB has turned the former Skew Bridge site into a major retail and leisure attraction and Friday was an important milestone for the firm, especially Jon McCarthy who has been working on this project for more than six years.
Since joining LXB, Jon has been directly involved in the acquisition, development and sale of retail parks and food stores, including major schemes in Grimsby, Swansea, Didcot, Belfast, Banbury and now Rushden Lakes.
Jon was at the site early on Friday morning ahead of the first stores opening and he said: “It’s been a lot of hard work, I was getting emotional earlier today.
“I have been working on this for about six-and-a-half years.
“It’s been a long time in the making and there’s been lots of challenges.”
But he said it was great to see everyone finally getting the chance to look around the site, and he added: “It has surpassed my expectations.
“People have been very complimentary about what they have seen and about the scheme.”
Jon praised Winvic for its role in helping create the unique retail and leisure destination.
Not only has the county-based firm had to build units for retailers including M&S, House of Fraser and Primark, but it has also had to be sensitive to the local environment, with the site sitting within the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Special Protection Area where wetland birds spend their winters in the nature reserve.
People can walk, drive or catch the bus to Rushden Lakes, but concerns have been raised about the amount of traffic trying to get in and out of the site and the knock-on effect for drivers using the A45.
And by 2pm on Friday, there had been more than 9,500 vehicles accessing the development.
But Jon said staff were working hard to direct customers to spaces in the car park as well as monitoring it to keep the traffic moving as thousands of people went along to experience Rushden Lakes for the first time.
And the traffic situation will continue to be monitored in the coming weeks.
Phase two of Rushden Lakes is due to open in early 2019, including a 14-screen multiplex cinema from Cineworld, more parking spaces, additional restaurants and leisure activities, including indoor trampolining, adventure golf and indoor climbing.
Further retail will also be delivered as part of phase three at the entrance to Rushden Lakes.