A £100 million designer outlet village could be up and running in Grantham in three years, creating 1,500 jobs and attracting 3.5 million customers.
Rioja Developments wants to build a village of 130 outlets to attract customers from all over the east of England.
The village is planned for an area of the KiNG31 industrial site next to the A1, where a new junction will be built as phase 2 of the town’s relief road. The village will take up two thirds of the KiNG31 site.
Rioja, a specialist developer of designer outlet villages, has teamed up with Buckminster Estate, which owns the land. The planned village will cover 270,000 square feet.
As well as shops, the site will include restaurants, cafes, a hotel of about 80 rooms, a tourist information centre and 1,800 car parking spaces.
There will be a public consultation on the plans this month, starting with a drop-in consultation where the public can see the plans and make their comments. This will be held at ChristChurch in Finkin Street on Friday, September 16, from noon to 8pm, and on Saturday, September 17, from 10am to 4pm.
A planning application could be submitted by November. If it is approved, construction of the village could start in 2018 with the first phase of the designer outlet village opening in spring 2020.
The first phase would see about 80 of the outlets built and established before the rest are built as part of phase 2, to be fully open in 2023.
Buckminster Estate has told the Journal that it agreed to the development because of the potential benefits for Grantham town centre, where it owns a number of properties. Rioja says that its experience from other shopping villages it has built is that about 10 per cent of customers will visit the town centre as well, meaning a potential 350,000 people could boost the town’s economy and tourism.
Giles Membrey, managing director of Rioja, said: “There is considerable demand for a designer outlet village in the east of England area and we feel Grantham is the ideal location. Designer outlet villages are unlike other retail developments in that they feature upmarket quality brands most, if not all, of which you won’t find in any typical market town – with prices between 30 per cent and 50 per cent lower than high street equivalents.”
Mr Membrey added: “Research shows that designer outlet villages tend to attract customers from up to 90 minutes away, often as part of a day out, with shoppers often visiting both a designer outlet village and the nearby town centre. As such they are as much tourist destinations as they are retail centres.
“Grantham Designer Outlet Village will bring people to Grantham who wouldn’t otherwise be coming to the area – many of whom we expect to visit Grantham town centre alongside their trip to Grantham’s designer outlet.”
Similar examples of designer outlet villages in the UK can be found at Cheshire Oaks near Chester, the York Designer outlet and Bicester Village – which the developer said has had an enormously positive impact on the town.
Buckminster Estate says a designer outlet village in Grantham would bring in much-needed custom to the town centre.
Managing director Stephen Vickers said: “As a major investor and property owner in Grantham town centre we are absolutely committed to Grantham’s future and excited by the prospect of bringing thousands of new visitors to the town.
“Grantham Designer Outlet Village will provide a catalyst for further investment and jobs. Drawing in people from both this region as well as wider afield, the outlet will increase confidence and bring more trade to the town centre.
“We hope to see as many people as possible take part in the consultation process that will allow the residents of Grantham to help shape the scheme.”
Leader of South Kesteven District Council Councillor Bob Adams said: “These certainly appear to be very exciting proposals which could potentially enhance our economy and help make Grantham an even more attractive destination.
“We all want Grantham to be a great place to live, work and visit and we are encouraged by the volume of public engagement that the developers are planning.
“We will need to ensure that these proposals appropriately safeguard our existing businesses whilst creating significant new opportunities.
“The council, in its role as the local planning authority, will be consulting widely with the public and all interested parties to make sure we understand what our businesses and residents think.”
Following the consultation, the plans will be available to see online at www.grantham designeroutletvillage.com and a leaflet outlining the plans will also be distributed throughout the town.
The chairman of Grantham Business Club, Darren Joint, says he backs the £100 million plan for a designer outlet village.
Mr Joint says the ambitious plan could potentially be a big boost for Grantham business.
Mr Joint, managing director of Viking Signs in Grantham, said: “I am very supportive of it. It will be very interesting to hear how they will work to ensure the connectivity with the town centre and zero harm to local businesses.
“If the quality of the offering is maintained, so that it is not drawing customers away from the existing provision in the town, then it sounds very sensible and it should be good for local business.
“It sounds like it is well thought through and I wouldn’t expect anything else from them. I wish them the best of luck.”
The business club meets on Thursday and it will be addressed by Stephen Vickers, of Buckminster Estate, who will outline the outlet village proposal. Any local businesses who would like to be represented at the meeting can book their place by going to the business club website at www.granthambusinessclub.co.uk/events