Influx of new business development – East Northants

East Northamptonshire could see an influx of new business development, leading to significant employment gains, if various schemes come to fruition over the next couple of years says commercial property agent Prop-Search.

The biggest and certainly that grabbing most headlines – good and bad – is the proposed development of the former Skew Bridge site at Rushden.  LBX Retail Properties Ltd purchased the site, spanning some 244 acres, last year for a reported £4.5 million and has now submitted a formal planning application for multi-million pound shopping park.

Whilst 31 acres of the site, alongside the A45, is brownfield land and benefits from a planning permission for 550,000 sq ft of offices, LXB is looking to bring forward an alternative retail scheme.  This would provide for up to 450,000 sq ft to include a home and garden centre, retail units, restaurants and lakeside visitor centre, all as part of a comprehensive shopping park – at a total estimated cost of £40 million.  The development, subject to securing planning permission, is intended to also benefit from a hotel, creche and various leisure activities, together with substantial enhancement and investment into the East Northamptonshire Greenway and Blueway initiatives.

The East Northamptonshire Greenway project aims to develop a network of routes for walking and cycling in the south of the district, whilst the Blueway aims to improve access in and around the River Nene.  These would link open spaces, together with opportunities for informal recreation and alternative means of transport to services and facilities – including a new bridge over the A45.

However, whilst the scheme – creating up to 1,500 new jobs – appears to have the support of local residents and Wellingborough Borough Council, who have said that it would not offer competition to the town and could act as a catalyst in the towns regeneration, opposition has come from Kettering, Northampton and Corby.  Indeed, Kettering Borough Council’s Planning Policy Committee has voted unanimously to object to the planning application as they have concerns that the retail element would cause irreparable harm to other town centres in the area.

The planning application is thought to be heard by East Northants Council imminently, although it is likely that the matter could be referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment for final approval.

An extension to Warth Park, already an established industrial and warehouse location at Raunds, has recently received planning consent.  Roxhill, in a joint venture with Warth Development, has secured planning to double the size of the scheme which is already home to Indesit (450,000 sq ft), Gem Distribution (250,000 sq ft), Avery Dennison (90,000 sq ft) and Robert Wiseman Dairies (65,000 sq ft).

The extension includes 70 acres for distribution/industrial units up to 850,000 sq ft and 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 smaller scale commercial units.

The developer is now seeking interest from potential occupiers and is offering build programmes of just 28 weeks from commencement of on-site construction works.

Thrapston’s cattle market will shortly move to the edge of the town as work on a new Sainsbury’s looks set to begin, following a planning meeting last month when Councillors gave the supermarket the green light.  It is likely that the new store will create up to 150 new jobs and hopefully tempt new shoppers into the town centre with a pedestrian walkway being created to the High Street from Market Road.

A new Thrapston Rural Agricultural Centre, capable of accommodating up to 550 cattle and 3,000 sheep, will now be built in Haldens Parkway, on the edge of the town.  Work on the new 20,000 sq ft supermarket will start once the old cattle market has been demolished and new traffic orders put in place.