Marks & Spencer has signed up to be an anchor store at Rushden Lakes if the £50m scheme gets the go-ahead.
The major chain has signed on the dotted line in the same week that the report following the public inquiry has been submitted to the Secretary of State.
The report was delayed after the planning inspector suffered an injury, and a decision on the site by the A45 in Rushden will be made in the new year.
Jon McCarthy, development director for LXB, said: “We are delighted that M&S have now signed up to the Rushden Lakes scheme.
“Having such a prestigious brand committed demonstrates their confidence in our ability to develop the Lakes.
“Hopefully the Government will agree with both M&S and ourselves over the need for the development and the significant and wide ranging benefits that it 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 crèche, a boathouse/activity centre and a lakeside visitors’ centre.
LXB spokesman Gavin Stollar said: “We are also in advanced discussions with Costa Coffee to deliver a unit at the entrance to the scheme.”
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 determined that the decision should be reviewed at a public inquiry.
The Rushden Lakes inquiry heard from all sides on whether the multi-million pound development should be granted.
LXB Properties 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.
During the 12-day hearing in July, planning inspector Harold Stephens listened to their evidence.
An evening session, held in response to demand from people to speak at the inquiry, heard from 27 local people, councillors, business leaders and community group representatives, who all spoke in favour of it.