D-day for Elliott’s Field retail park

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A multi-million pound scheme to redevelop Elliott’s Field Retail Park look set to be given the go-ahead this week - potentially putting Clock Towers expansion plans in jeopardy.

The Elliott’s Field application - including a Debenhams flagship store - will be discussed by borough councillors at the Town Hall in Rugby on Wednesday evening.

Officers have recommended that the £35 million scheme, submitted by retail park owner Hammerson, should be approved.

The decision will follow plans released last week by the Clock Towers Shopping Centre to expand on to adjacent land in Evreux Way where Gala Bingo once stood and which also includes Cemex House.

Tony Spencer, manager of the Clock Towers, said: “If Hammerson is given the go-ahead it would make it very difficult for us. There just won’t be the critical mass in the town centre. There’s been so many mistakes in town panning before and this could be one of them. Whatever decision is made is crucial.”

However Rugby Borough Council (RBC) has said this week that there is potential for both schemes in the town.

Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for economy, development and culture, said: “It’s not a case of one of the other. Rugby is very much a growing town. We’ve got the Hammerson application ready to go and we welcome proposals from the Clock Towers. These are at a very early stage. We’re happy to work with them to try and bring their aspirations to reality.”

The Elliott’s Retail Park expansion would include 15 retail units for fashion and homeware brands, as well as two restaurants/cafes and 721 parking spaces.

The current units would be demolished to make way for the revamp, which could create hundreds of new jobs.

A planning report which will be presented to councillors at Wednesday’s meeting outlines details of other alternative sites that were looked at as part of Hammerson’s application.

Independent consultants Deloitte LLP said that redevelopment of Evreux Way and North Street would not materialise in the short to medium term, adding that the land was ‘not expected to be compatible with the demands of modern retailer requirements’.

The report also states that only a ‘limited proportion’ of people within the Rugby area shop for comparison goods that the retail park would offer in the town centre.

It states: “It has been demonstrated therefore that whilst there will be trade draw from the town centre there will not be a significantly adverse impact upon the town centre comparison trade as a result of these proposals.”

Rugby Borough Council hope that Elliott’s Field will keep people shopping in the town.

Cllr Timms said: “People who are using Debenhams will be spending money in Rugby rather than travelling out of town. Many of them shop in adjacent towns at the moment, which means there is already a substantial leakage from Rugby. Elliott’s Field might attract people back. We are a growing town. We’ve got housing going up and the retail offer will be strengthened.

RBC said that parking is something it is looking into and it is currently studying figures to see if a free parking scheme last year resulted in higher footfall.

Officers said Hammerson’s plans should be approved because it will create jobs, increase retail expenditure and spending in the town, enhance the retail presence and choice, as well as generating significant investment.

The £20 million Clock Towers plans include a department store, nine-screen cinema, shops, bar and restaurants.

The shopping centre, which is owned by CBRE Lionbrook, said that talks were ongoing with both owners of the Evreux Way land.

Ian Southcott, UK community affairs manger at Cemex which owns part of the site, said: “As we announced some time ago, we are planning to relocate our office base in Rugby and have been seeking a buyer for the Cemex House site. The current economic climate has obviously had an impact on this process but it remains the case that the site is on the market.”