UPDATE 24th July 2012
Great News that the Borough Council have done a U-Turn and that the Waitrose development has now received approval.
Fantastic news for residents in the area and congratulations for holding your elected representatives to account.
I hope that now we will see an end to political dogma and a realisation that Northampton and its future has to be the priority which is why unitary status and an end to bowing the knee to the County Council is so important.
Failure to Support Waitrose Will Send a Powerful Message to Investors
If ever there is an issue that not only people in Northampton but those from outside and especially potential investors will be confused about, it is the retail offer and development confusion in the Borough.
We have recently been subject to all kinds of reasons why Legal and General aren’t going forward with the development of the Grosvenor Centre.
It started with them saying that the potential development at Rushden Lakes will threaten the Grosvenor regeneration, immediately followed by the Leader of the Borough Council saying it wouldn’t and that he had received assurances from Legal & General.
This was then followed by a definite ‘it will happen’ briefing followed two weeks later by ‘it is no longer economically viable’ from L & G and the statement from the leader of the Council that he would be calling for ‘urgent talks to find out what is happening’.
So major contradictions and questions that have been asked by Labour and which the Conservative administration has refused to answer preferring to hide behind the bland “I’ll consider all of the options” response.
We have now seen another major company demonstrating their lack of confidence in Northampton with TESCO withdrawing from the Barrack Road development which would have given a much-needed boost to the towns economy at a time when the number of vacant properties in the town centre has increased from 45 to 77 in the last year.
You have thought that if a major organisation such as John Lewis wanted to invest in Northampton they would have been welcomed with open arms and especially if the residents wanted and supported it?
Which brings us to the delays in the proposed Waitrose development in Wootton and the very grave concerns that they have been delayed from submitting a planning application because of issues of support in the Guildhall and now the speculation that it will be rejected which rings or at least should ring alarm bells because it is less than a month since L & G stated clearly that they had not “received support from the Borough Council in recent times”.
It will be a great shame if the John Lewis/Waitrose project doesn’t receive permission to go ahead for a number of reasons.
Firstly because with over 2000 homes and two schools to be built in the Wootton, Collingtree, Hardingstone area there is a need for the kind of retail that Waitrose would provide.
Secondly, successful companies such as Waitrose would not be proposing to invest in the area if they didn’t consider it to be an up and coming area with a future.
Thirdly and perhaps most importantly businesses such as John Lewis/Waitrose, TESCO and Legal and General are a part of the immense retail and development investment sector, and leading members at that, so the message that their rejection of or rejection by Northampton will permeate throughout the whole of the investment industry.
Labour believe that the way to bring the Country and Northampton out of the recession which has been created by the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Governments failing economic policies is through investment in infrastructure, manufacturing and the retail sector to create employment opportunities such as those that a Waitrose in Wootton would provide.
It is time the Borough Council administration started to Listen and open Northampton to business not as is currently being seen closing it down to investment opportunities.