Shoppers are just a few months away from seeing the first units open at Rushden Lakes.
The first phase of the major retail and leisure development just off the A45 at Rushden is set to open this summer.
It will have 43 shops and restaurants, including well-known names such as Marks & Spencer, H&M, Next, New Look and Primark.
The site is owned by The Crown Estate, which is funding the £140 million shopping and leisure scheme.
Its portfolio includes almost the entire freehold to Regent Street and nearly 50 per cent of the buildings in St James’s, London, as well as a regional portfolio boasting schemes such as Leicester’s Fosse Park and Banbury Gateway Shopping Park.
Mike Bell, asset manager for The Crown Estate, invited the Northants Telegraph along to see how work is progressing on Rushden Lakes ahead of its summer opening.
He said the scheme is going well and it is hoped a number of the shops will have a ‘soft opening’ in July ahead of an official opening for the whole site in September.
House of Fraser has already started fitting out its two-storey unit near the waterside area, which is where Canoe2 will be based and The Wildlife Trust’s visitor centre will be.
The boardwalk area is taking shape outside a number of the units which will be filled by restaurants, some of which may take advantage of the chance to offer al fresco dining overlooking the lake.
Planting has started across the site and a water feature is taking shape in a central boulevard, which Mike said he hopes will encourage people to walk between the shops and explore all aspects of the scheme, including taking time to wander around the lake and enjoy the different vistas from various viewpoints.
Being sensitive to the wildlife in and around Rushden Lakes has been a priority for the scheme from day one, as well as trying to make the project as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.
As part of this, there will be places to leave bikes for anyone planning to cycle there as well as links to the Greenway.
Four bus routes will serve the site, including two new services.
And anyone driving along the A45 will soon see the new bridge taking shape, which will allow people to walk there and get across the busy road safely.
Parking at Rushden Lakes will be free and there will be power points for electric cars.
About 90 per cent of the site’s units have been pre-let already, with L’Occitane, Joules, Hobbs, Fat Face, Schuh and Moss Bros among the names which have signed up.
And with the British weather often being grey and wet, the shopping terraces have canopies to provide shelter for visitors walking from one shop to the next if it’s bad.
Mike said they are really excited about the project and it is hoped that the unique design of Rushden Lakes will make it a ‘destination’ for eating, shopping and leisure.
But this first phase is just the start - work is expected to get under way on the second phase which includes a 14-screen cinema and more shops this summer and should be completed by the following summer.
To keep up-to-date with Rushden Lakes, you can visit its new website by clicking here