Author: Natasha Hewitt, 23 August 2017

FSP's Tish Hewitt has visited the eagerly anticipated Rushden Lakes which opened on Friday 26th July. Located 15 miles east of Northampton, it is the culmination of 5 years of planning and the £140m investment from The Crown Estate and LxB. The scheme boasts 230k ft2 of retail space set in the Nene Wetlands, which provides a nature focus to the scheme, emphasised by its positioning on the shore of the lake. 

HoF

On approach to the scheme, the rush of opening week was evident by the slow moving trail of cars into the car park. Offering 5 hours free parking in one of approximately 1.2k spaces there is a good provision. It may however, be a case of ‘early bird gets the worm’ as by 1pm free spaces were few and far between, indicating a slow turnover of shoppers. 

Primark

As to be expected of an out of town scheme at this scale, the majority of unit sizes were large and bright showing an excellent range of stock. Customers were overheard saying that it was the best Primark that they had ever seen. This appeared to be encouraging a high spend conversion rate, based on a count of shopping bags around the scheme.

It could however, be argued that the tenant mix is slightly disjointed, not only physically but in terms of selection. The smaller units at the far end of the car park are centred on a more aspirational line up however, a number of vacant units between retailers such as Hobbs, Mountain Warehouse and Pandora result in an un-cohesive line up, contrasting to the mass market offer at the entrance.

Mountain Warehouse

The leisure focus of Rushden Lakes is multi-faceted. Taking advantage of its location on the lake, recreational rowing boats and pedalos connect shoppers with the surrounding nature. The pedalos seemed particularly popular.  The second phase of the Rushden Lakes development includes additions to the leisure offer such as a cinema, soft play and trampolining. This will compound the scheme’s objective to become a day out leisure destination. Additional parking will be key here to avoid an under-provision.

Lake

The main criticisms of Rushden Lakes centre around one factor – it is unfinished. The phased opening of retailers meant that at the time of the visit, key tenants such as House of Fraser, Next and River Island were not open, and ongoing building works were very apparent. The Food & Beverage (F&B) offer is currently lacking, Casual Dining in particular, resulting in a disproportionately large queue for the M&S Café. Positively, all of these criticisms are likely to be rectified as time goes on. 

F&B

On reflection, Rushden Lakes has created a well-rounded shopping experience, bound to impress shoppers with its retail and leisure offer. In addition, it is well integrated with its surroundings, providing a strong foundation as a day out destination, which is only going to improve when the F&B and leisure provision increases. FSP looks forward to seeing the progression of this exciting new scheme.

FSP can assist in leasing strategies both for new and existing schemes. If you require any further information please contact FSP Sales Director, Andrew McVicker

Outside seating

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