Rushden Lakes retail park: Inquiry speakers back shopping scheme

Image of how the centre might look
Image caption Neighbouring towns claimed a new retail development would draw trade away from them

Proposals for a £50m shopping development in Northamptonshire were backed by speakers at a public inquiry on Tuesday.

The two-week examination of the Rushden Lakes retail park held a session in Irthlingborough.

Of the 28 members of the public who spoke, just one was opposed to the scheme.

East Northamptonshire Council backed the scheme last year, but neighbouring councils opposed it.

The developer LXB Retail Properties wants to build a hotel, restaurants and shops at the former Skew Bridge Country Club site and claim it could create up to 1,500 jobs.

Councils in Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Bedford objected, claiming it would take trade away from their towns.

Eric Pickles, the government's communities secretary, called in the application for further scrutiny.

'Bully-boy tactics'

The public inquiry is based in Thrapston, but a session was held in Irthlingborough where about 200 attended.

Richard Nelson, from a local canoe hire company, said: "This is an excellent opportunity to bring in job opportunities, but it would also unlock the tourism opportunity of the Nene valley."

Tom Collins, who lives in Rushden, said: "It's bully-boy tactics from other towns that are objecting to what we are trying to do for ourselves."

Tony Knott, assistant county commissioner for the Scouts, said: "We're supporting it because it will provide additional scope for more water activities and we've been offered some facilities, which we are short of in this county."

The public inquiry is due to end on Friday and the final decision on the development will be made at a later date by Mr Pickles.

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