Pickles calls in plans for vast out-of-town retail development

Posted by Property Week on 21st Dec 2012

The Secretary of State Eric Pickles has called in a controversial planning application for a 465,000 sq ft out-of-town retail and leisure development at Rushden Lakes, in Northamptonshire.

The planning application had been one of the key battlegrounds this year between out-of-town and in-town retail development.

Property Week revealed in October that landlords in the local town centres of Kettering, Corby and Northampton – including Legal & General, Helical Bar, Ellandi and CBRE Global Investors – had written to Pickles urging him to call in LXB’s plans due to the impact it will have on town centre retailing in the area.

The move by CLG comes after Mary Portas used her high street review last year to call on the government to protect town centres and limit out-of-town developments.

In a letter seen by Property Week, the Department for Communities and Local Government  said: “The Secretary of State is of the opinion that the application is one that he ought to decide himself because he considers that the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters.”

The plans for the redevelopment of the former Skew Bridge Country Club and dry ski slope, adjacent to the A45 Northampton Road, include a 74,000 sq ft home and garden centre, 340,000 sq ft of retail units across three terraces, a drive-thru restaurant, lakeside visitor centre and restaurants. A hotel, crèche and leisure club will also be included on the site.

Mark Robinson, founding partner of Ellandi, said: “Under the full scrutiny of a planning inspector this application should be rejected, so we would urge the developers to come back with a more sustainable and appropriate mixed use proposal.”

Jon McCarthy, development director at LXB, said: “This decision is clearly disappointing however we absolutely still believe in Rushden Lakes and we will be making the strongest possible case to the inspectorate in 2013. We would like to put on the record our thanks to everyone in Rushden, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough and the wider area who support our vision for the blighted Skew Bridge site. That support is still relevant, still required and still very much welcome until we clear this last planning hurdle.”

The government will now initiate a local inquiry, which is being coordinated through the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

Source: Property Week

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