(held on 14 July 2017)
The Crown Estate met with local MPs Peter Bone, Tom Pursglove, Councillor Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire District Council, and ward Councillors to discuss the measures being put in place to proactively manage car parking at Rushden Lakes.
The Crown Estate is taking a proactive approach to manage car parking at Rushden Lakes, so that the shopping centre is able to welcome as many visitors as possible, and minimise impact on surrounding roads.
Working closely with its retailers at Rushden Lakes, The Crown Estate has implemented a package of measures designed to manage the popularity of the new destination and manage car parking when the scheme opens later this month. These include:
Customer parking - A key part of creating a successful shopping and leisure destination is managing the parking provision, and that means ensuring that as many of the 1,250 car parking spaces are free to be used by customers when the first phase of the development opens this Summer. There are many approaches that we are implementing to ensure this is the case, including:
- Introducing a five hour limit to the free customer parking will give everyone ample opportunity to spend time shopping, dining and exploring with us. This will be reviewed regularly and when further retail & leisure phases open.
- Ensuring there is a dedicated on site centre management team at Rushden Lakes available 24/7 to help with control of the car park and, if necessary, provide marshalling to support access and parking.
- Installing an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) traffic management system in the car park, to enable the centre management team to monitor traffic flow, and establish optimum visit times during peak trading periods, such as busy weekends and seasonal shopping.
The benefit of installing these additional car park management measures at Rushden Lakes is that they provide a flexible approach to managing the car park once the first phase has opened. How these measures are used and adjusted will depend on how the car park performs and this will be reviewed regularly by our management team, to ensure that the first phase of the scheme is as successful and accessible as possible.
Staff parking - Being able to offer free car parking to as many shoppers and visitors as possible is crucial to the success of Rushden Lakes. In accordance with the planning consent for the scheme, there are no restrictions on the number of car parking spaces that retail staff can use at Rushden Lakes but we are working collaboratively with retailers to seek to reduce the reliance of their staff on car parking, to ensure there is as much availability for customers and visitors as possible. The Centre management team have been working closely with retailers at a head office and store level to develop travel plans for their staff and encourage staff members where possible to use alternative more sustainable modes of travel to and from work. Additionally, there is further potential to create more than 130 dedicated staff parking bays in the service areas behind the stores after the construction of the first phase has finished and we are considering how this can be added to the scheme to assist with those staff who need to drive to work.
Alternative travel - To further support the success of Rushden Lakes, accessibility through alternative transport is at the heart of the design and management of the scheme. We have sought to ensure there a many options for visitors, customers and staff. These include:
- Buses: The Crown Estate is funding two new bus services as well as the extension of two existing routes. Four bus routes will serve Rushden Lakes from surrounding towns and villages, from early in the morning until later into the evening, 7 days a week. They run between Rushden town centre, Wellingborough, and out to Northampton and Bedford.
- Cycling: Rushden Lakes is connected to the national cycle network and there is ample cycle parking on site with cycle rack facilities.
- Walking: The Crown Estate has funded the construction of a brand new pedestrian footbridge linking Rushden Lakes with Rushden town centre. Once open, the town will be within a 25 minute walk of Rushden Lakes. The bridge can also be used by cyclists.
Longer term – The active traffic management system will enable the centre management team to monitor car park usage and be flexible in how they manage car parking at Rushden Lakes once it has opened, and as further retail and leisure phases are delivered.
In the longer term, there are plans to open a cinema, leisure and restaurant development at Rushden Lakes, as well as more shops in 2019. These developments will bring with them additional car parking, increasing the total number of spaces at Rushden Lakes to more than 1,850 car spaces once all development phases are delivered.
Hannah Milne, Director of Regional Retail at The Crown Estate: “We were pleased to meet with members of East Northamptonshire District Councillors and local MPs at Rushden Lakes on Friday. It was an opportunity to update councillors on our proactive approach to travel and parking, and to share details of staff travel plans from our retailers. We expect Rushden Lakes shopping centre to be very popular when it opens and are working hard behind the scenes to help ensure it’s as accessible as possible. We are also promoting sustainable forms of transport, which includes buses, cycling and walking, and we will continue to engage throughout the summer as Rushden Lakes launches.”
Councillor Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council: “Partnership working is key to the success of Rushden Lakes and we were happy to meet with The Crown Estate to discuss how all challenges and opportunities around travel to and parking at the lakes are being managed.
“We’re confident that Rushden Lakes will be very popular and that close monitoring of how the site is used by those on foot, bicycle, bus and car will help to inform any future access management decisions. In the meantime, The Crown Estate is taking appropriate measures to ensure ease of access to the site and we look forward to seeing locals and visitors benefitting from this unique development.”
Peter Bone Member of Parliament for Wellingborough and Rushden: “So many people have worked long and hard in relation to Rushden Lakes. It is fantastic news that we are just days away from the opening of this truly superb leisure and retail facility.
“I have been impressed by the way The Crown Estate and East Northamptonshire Council have worked together to ensure that the parking arrangements at Rushden Lakes will be a success.”
Tom Pursglove MP, Member of Parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire:
"I was pleased to be able to attend the meeting at Rushden Lakes last week to discuss the progress of this exciting project; in particular issues relating to car parking, and the arrangements in place around the staggered opening, which will begin to come into effect very soon. This is such a fantastic project, and it will be great for our local area once it is opened, in terms of jobs, new shops and exciting leisure - frankly, I can't wait!"