Newark town centre will be 'killed off' if £125m shopping village is approved by South Kesteven District Council next week
A £125m shopping village is set to be approved again next week despite concerns it would kill off Newark town centre.
South Kesteven District Council this year approved its local plan for the Downtown outlet, which would be located to the north of Great Gonerby at Gonerby Moor, outside of Grantham.
The authority’s planning committee will re-examine the outline plans from Downtown, originally approved in February 2019, next Thursday.
Several councils, including in Newark and Lincoln, have reiterated concerns the development — along with another nearby £100m outlet centre by Rioja Estates — could take trade away from town centres and high streets.
Newark and Sherwood district councillor Maureen Dobson previously said the plans would kill off Newark town centre.
“I’d like to say it would more than kill Newark, it’ll just finish the retail section off,” she said.
“They (South Kesteven District Council) have already given planning permission to do one south of Grantham — why on earth would they want to do one north of Grantham?
“We are all struggling. Grantham is as dead as a dodo, we’re not far behind — in fact we could be about the same. I know we’re looking for new things and approaches but we really have got to start learning to work together for the benefit of everybody.”
Newark and Sherwood planning officer Lisa Hughes has said retail assessments revealed the centre would have a detrimental impact on the retail town centre of around 9% in terms of footfall.
Mrs Dobson said: “I don’t think 9%, with the greatest respect, is enough — I think it would be a lot more than that.
“I’m sure the South Kesteven members are not there to take and leech everything away from anywhere and everywhere, but really you’ve got to think about everybody.
“If not, we may as well pack our bags and not bother."
Plans include 107 designer outlet stores, 2,000 parking spaces, offices and leisure provision.
However, since the plans were brought back to the council, Downtown has made minor amendments to how the office spaces for management staff will be used.
It would also include a training academy with Grantham College to deliver skills opportunities.
Other concerns were around the expected additional traffic.
Officers, however, have recommended approval.
They said: “The proposal would deliver significant benefits to the wider area, to Grantham and its economy.
“Although the site is located outside of Grantham to the north of Great Gonerby at Gonerby Moor, it is considered to function as part of the Grantham economy and it is considered that the development of a Designer Outlet Centre at the application site would help to support and strengthen Grantham’s role as a sub-regional centre.”