Bosses at Downtown are forging ahead with their £125 million plan for a designer outlet village after submitting the plans yesterday (Thursday).
The plans for the outlet village, which include 107 retail outlets, a new garden centre, a hi-tech hub, a training academy and a tourist information centre, were presented to South Kesteven District Council yesterday.
The Downtown project comes in direct competition to another designer outlet village proposed by Buckminster for the King31 industrial site next to the A1.
But Downtown managing director Richard Broadhead says their focus is purely on delivering their own retail village.
Mr Broadhead told the Journal: “The response from the public has been very positive, incredible really. Ninety eight per cent of respondents to our consultation were in favour of the plans. It’s great for Grantham, it’s great for Lincolnshire and it’s full steam ahead.
“Clearly the council has a decision to make because there are two schemes which have been submitted but we are confident that what our scheme will do in terms of jobs, the economy, Grantham town centre and bringing investment to the town is very compelling.
“There is absolutely nothing that will stop us continuing with this plan. It is the right thing to do for Grantham.It ticks all the boxes. All the infrastructure is in place so in terms of delivery we are ready to go.”
Downtown says that its plan for the outlet village on its Gonerby Moor site will create 1,700 jobs and secure the future of the existing 700 jobs.
The company hopes its plans will be realised as early as the end of 2019.
The existing Downtown and Boundary Mill store will remain while the garden centre will be replaced by a modern ‘garden centre of the future’ and there will be a purpose-built Downtown@Home.
There will be an indoor lesire complex, although this will not include a cinema as a new multiplex is due to be built in the town centre.
The company’s distribution centre will be moved off site but will remain local.
The hi-tech hub will be purpose-built offices and provide space for new start-up businesses.
The plan also features a tourist information centre and a new position of visitor and events manager will be created.
Mr Broadhead added: “This is a key part of the project. We are expeciting three and a half million visitors every year to the outlet village and with our strong links to the town centre we believe up to 20 per cent of these customer will visit the town, which is half a million.”
There is already an existing bus route between the site and the town centre and there is even the possiblity of a new train station being built nearby on the Grantham to Skegness line which would take people from the site into Grantham in seven minutes.
Downtown is working with architects Brookerflynn on the project and Freeport Retail, a leading developer and operator of outlets Europe-wide.
Richard Neasham, Director of Brookerflynn Architects, said: “Bringing our retail experience to a major development in Grantham, to deliver refined design principles and inspiring architecture, will benefit and enhance the town and wider region.”
Iestyn Roberts, Chief Executive, Freeport Retailm, said: “The Downtown location is perfect for an outlet centre and redeveloping the existing retail site makes complete sense. This project will deliver major benefits to Grantham and the whole region.