The owner of Rushden Lakes is hoping to balance the needs of visitors, retailers, employees, local residents and businesses when it opens.
In light of concerns raised recently about parking and traffic when the £140 million retail and leisure development opens, the Crown Estate has said it is taking a ‘proactive approach’ to this.
While it would be difficult to predict exactly how busy it will be when the first shops open, it has said plans are in place to make it as easy as possible for people visiting the site.
A spokesman for the Crown Estate, which owns Rushden Lakes, said: “With the first store openings now less than a month away, we are working hard to ensure we are ready to welcome visitors and manage the interest in Rushden Lakes.
“We know people are excited to come and visit Rushden Lakes and we expect the centre to be very popular when it opens.
“To help manage this popularity, we are taking a proactive approach and implementing strategies, in addition to what was in the approved plans, and help balance the needs of our visitors, retailers, employees, local residents and businesses.”
Here are some of the measures being taken:
- For our visitors and retailers, being able to offer free car parking to as many shoppers and visitors as possible is key so when Rushden Lakes launches, free customer car parking will be offered up to five hours to give everyone ample opportunity to visit, shop and explore
- Our centre management team will be available 24/7 to help with the control of the car parking, including marshalling to help visitors find a space during busy times and manage access when necessary
- The centre management team will also monitor traffic flow and peak times, using the automatic number plate recognition system, and this will enable us to be flexible in how we manage car parking at Rushden Lakes once it has opened
- We are working with our retailers, at store and head office level, to develop travel plans for their staff. We are not restricting retailers to one staff parking space per unit, but we are encouraging staff members to consider using sustainable modes of travel to and from work
- Our centre management have also identified the potential for over 100 staff car parking spaces in the service areas of the site
The spokesman went on to say: “Rushden Lakes has been built in line with the original plans which were reviewed and approved by planners, East Northamptonshire Council planning committee and the Secretary of State.
“So we are confident that the original plans made sufficient allocation for customer parking.
“But a car is just one of the ways visitors can get to Rushden Lakes; four bus routes will service Rushden Lakes and we’ve provided funding for this local public transport, we’ve also funded a pedestrian footbridge to link Rushden town and the centre, and the centre has ample provision for cyclists.
“Rushden Lakes is a unique destination, set within over 200 acres of stunning natural wetlands, and we are focused on ensuring we support the natural area and protect the wildlife which call it home.
“The original travel plan made a commitment to reduce car travel to Rushden Lakes by a quarter over the next five years.
“Therefore, we are encouraging our shoppers and staff to work with us to promote and embrace sustainable travel.
“We know people are excited about coming to experience Rushden Lakes, and we share that excitement.
“As I am sure you will appreciate, it is difficult for us to predict the exact travel arrangements for all staff and visitors ahead of the launch of Rushden Lakes but we do have experience with launching new schemes and managing access at our other retail parks.
“Our proactive approach aims to support the popularity of Rushden Lakes when it launches, and retaining a flexible approach will be essential to ensuring that we can respond once Rushden Lakes is fully open.”