South Kesteven District Council has agreed to back a £100 million designer retail village off the A1, next to the town’s southern relief road.
Final approval will be given when developers Rioja and Buckminster sign up to a raft of conditions, including Section 106 contributions.
The plan is for a first phase of 20,000 square metres comprising of 85 units to be built with associated restaurants and cafes, plus parking for 1,675 cars. This will then be followed by a further 53 units in phase two, which will also see 300 extra parking spaces and an 85-bed hotel.
However, the scheme set for the south end of Grantham, between the A1 and Spittlegate Level, faces competition from a rival designer outlet plan from established Grantham retailer Downtown which has formally submitted its own plans.
After the Development Management Committee voted 10-3 in favour of the Rioja proposal this morning, Richard Broadhead, managing director of Oldrids and Downtown, told the Journal: “It’s full steam ahead with our project. We expect it to come before the committee in the New Year. We are still confident that our scheme is the best by far.
“We are not disheartened by anything we have heard today. We have 98 per cent public support for our project.”
However, South Kesteven District Council planning staff said they had made their own studies of rival schemes, believing the Rioja/ Buckminster scheme to the south would be better overall.
But planning committee chairman Martin Wilkins told the meeting that each application has to be judged on its merits and members would also be able to determine the Downtown rival in due course.
He rejected calls from Coun Charmaine Morgan for the decision on the Rioja/Buckminster scheme to be deferred so councillors could determine them both together.
She feared how the Rioja/Buckminster plan could harm job prospects for Downtown staff and traffic generated by the scheme would harm people living in the southern part of Grantham, especially if the Southern Relief Road was not completed by the time the shopping village opened. She also believed Grantham town centre did not have sufficient parking for the extra visitors to town, which the new development is said will attract.
Other councillors disputed how the Rioja/Buckminster scheme would harm the existing Downtown operation, or Grantham town centre, claiming the upmarket brands it would attract were not sold at either centre so it would not be in competition.
They also accepted plans by Rioja/Buckminster to devise ways to attract shoppers to town, adding that research showed ten per cent of those who shopped at such Tier One outlet villages, would then visit nearby towns, something they believed would lead to 350,000 extra shoppers coming to Grantham every year.
The also said the new development would put Grantham “on the map” and they welcomed the promise of more than 1,000 jobs and help from the developers to train locals to get them.