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East Northants - the wait is over

For the past 18 months East Northamptonshire has been on tenterhooks as it waited to see whether a £50 million shopping and leisure development at Rushden would get the green light.

In October 2012, East Northamptonshire councillors voted unanimously to grant planning permission for the development of the former Skew Bridge Country Club & Ski site - purchased by LBX Retail Properties for £4.5m in 2011.  However, due to complex planning rules, the application was referred to the Secretary of State who determined that the decision should be reviewed at a public inquiry.  Last summer, a representative for The Planning Inspectorate spent three weeks listening to arguments being put forward from neighbouring councils, politicians, business owners, retail consultants and planning experts - which were both for and against the £50m scheme.

The Secretary of State has now considered the Inspector’s report and agrees with its findings which are to grant consent.  In his summary, it is agreed that the development would assist in delivering jobs for which there is a step-change requirement; delivering investment in services and facilities; regenerating Rushden and enhancing the environment of Rushden Lakes and the Nene Valley.

It is now hoped that LXB Retail Properties will start the development of the 31 acres brownfield site which sits alongside the A45 on the edge of Rushden.  The full application is for the development of up to 465,000 sq ft to include a home and garden centre, retail units across three terraces, a drive-thru and four seated restaurants, hotel and crèche, and lakeside visitor centre.  The shopping park, which would create up to 1,500 new jobs, could include two anchor retail stores - one of which is rumoured to be Marks & Spencer and potentially other major retailers including Next, New Look, Debenhams and JD Sports. 

Rushden East is a Sustainable Urban Extension that has been identified as an essential component, along with Rushden Lakes, of Rushden’s ambitions to be a growth town - contributing significantly to North Northamptonshire ambitions to increase housing numbers and jobs.  Nene Park is the site of the former Rushden & Diamonds FC and, more recently, Kettering FC.  The stadium now stands disused with owners seeking to develop a mix of retail and leisure uses on the site to ensure that football continues to have a home there and to provide a much improved retail and leisure offer to the town of Irthlingborough.

Work on the much anticipated new Sainsbury’s store in Thrapston remains some way off as the supermarket giant still has to secure permission from outside of the local council’s remit.  Early in 2013, East Northamptonshire Council granted planning permission for the new food-store on the site of the cattle market.  Since then, Sainsburys has been working with Northamptonshire County Council to achieve consent for the Traffic Regulations Order necessary for the supermarket to be built.  These have now been approved but further technical highway design works remains to be completed before construction can start on-site.

Work has started on a single distribution warehouse of over a million sq ft, just off the A14 at Islip.  A pre-let of the facility has been agreed with a Top 25 International Retailer - rumored to be Primark.  The initial earthworks are scheduled to be completed by this summer which will enable construction of the building to begin.

At the end of last year Roxhill Developments completed work on a 45,000 sq ft warehouse facility for Geopost at Raunds - forming part of Phase II of Warth Park, already home to Indesit, Gem Distribution, Avery Dennison and Robert Wiseman Dairies.  Since then, a 130,000 sq ft office and distribution centre has been constructed for AirWair, popularly known as Dr Martens, to support its recent resurgence in popular culture.  The developer is now seeking enquiries for 10 acres at the front of the site, forming a gateway to the development and to Raunds itself from the A45, for uses including hotel, health & fitness, family pub/restaurant, crèche and other commercial units.

The freehold investment of Indesit’s distribution centre at Warth Park has also just been sold by Roxhill Developments for £32.5 million, representing a 6.4% yield.  The 467,300 sq ft shed is let to the household appliance manufacture until 2021.

So whilst East Northamptonshire is a rural district, a significant amount of development has been seen and is being forecast.  There are also proposals to redevelop and regenerate the town centre of Raunds and Irthlingborough, ensuring that they continue to function as market towns.

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Friday, July 25, 2014