Retail and leisure scheme next to Rushden Lakes set to be refused

Rushden Living is proposing 15 new units which would house new shops, leisure facilities and food places, but planning officers are recommending it is refused planning permission.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:10 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:11 am
An artist's impression of the scheme.
An artist's impression of the scheme.

A new retail park on greenfield land next to the county’s shopping mecca Rushden Lakes is set to be refused planning permission.

The Rushden Living scheme, proposed for land between Ditchford Lane and the successful Rushden Lakes, looks likely to fall at a planning hurdle next Wednesday (February 10).

East Northamptonshire Council’s planning officers are recommending that councillors deny the scheme for a number of reasons including the fact the site is not identified for development site in the local plan and because it has a poor layout.

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The scheme is proposing to build 14 new units which would house a mix of shops, leisure venues and eateries.

A report to be considered by councillors says: “The proposal is of a significant scale yet lacks a masterplan context, would represent the loss of a substantial area of good quality agricultural land and would see the introduction of additional town centre uses into an out of town location, well way from existing dwellings. The additional uses would not support neighbouring town centres to diversify their offer to operate successfully alongside Rushden Lakes.”

Positive reasons given by the officers to approve the scheme include job creation, tourism benefits and the developer’s Section 106 payments would mean the planned Ditchford Lane link road is more likely to be delivered.

The North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit – which oversees an overarching planning policy for the area – is also against the planning application.

Its response to the application says: “An expansive green space located to the corner of the site situated along two inactive boundaries, proves very little opportunity for activity, movement through the space and passive surveillance. Nor does it provide any opportunity to connect into a wider network of green space and the wider network setting.”

This is the second time the application has made it to planning after it was deferred in November due to the political sensitivity at the time of the general election.

The scheme is being brought forward by Anonymous Ltd but The Crown Estate – which owns Rushden Lakes – acquired the land in August last year. It is likely to propose a different scheme for the same site in the future after carrying out a recent consultation.

The report also says that Rushden Lakes, which opened in 2017, as it stands now is different from the original agreed plan which gave consent for 32,500sqm of development. It has twice as many shops as originally agreed, seven times as many restaurants and 19 percent more retail space.

Due to this the Rushden Living scheme has also had a number of objections from neighbouring councils such as Kettering, Northampton and Wellingborough due to the increased retail out of town retail competition.

If the councillors decide to go against the officers’ advice and grant permission the decision will go to the Secretary of State who will then make a decision whether or not to call in the application. This is in part because the floor space of the application exceeds 5,000 sq m.