South Kesteven District Councillors take a third look at Downtown designer outlet plans

A controversial designer outlet centre near Grantham, which has attracted the attention of major cities and sparked fears it could be a town centre killer, is up for approval again next week.

Oldrid & Co’s outline plans to create a £125 million shopping village off Old Great North Road, Great Gonerby, was originally approved in February 2019, then again in September 2021.

South Kesteven District Council’s Planning Committee will now examine the plans again after a Section 106 Agreement was prepared, and further minor changes made to the plans.

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The plans include 107 designer outlet stores, nearly 2,000 parking spaces, offices, leisure provision – likely to be indoor play areas for families – and a tourism information centre.

The latest plans include a reduced footprint and a multi-storey car park.

Officers have previously said the proposal would “deliver significant benefits to the wider area, to Grantham and its economy”.

Benefits of the scheme would include the creation of up to 240 local temporary construction jobs per year over the 2.5 year construction period and up to 1,620 full time equivalent jobs after.

However, objectors to the plans include authorities such as the City of Lincoln Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council and Peterborough City Council who fear the development, along with another approved down the road and developed by a company called Rioja and Buckminster, could draw shoppers away.

Intu, which owns and manages 17 prime regional shopping centres in the UK including intu Victoria Centre and intu Broadmarsh in Nottingham city centre and intu Derby in Derby city centre, has also raised concerns.

The competing DOC by Rioja has also been involved in lengthy arguments about the development since it was first planned, with warnings including that having two similar developments will have a detrimental effect on both as well as the local area such as Grantham Town Centre.

On the flip side, however, the site has plenty of support, with more than 200 people writing to the council praising the development.

It also has support from Grantham College and the owners of the adjacent MOTO A1 / Gonerby Moor services.

Officers will tell councillors next week that they have carried out an impact assessment with the aid of a company called Stantec.

This included “worst case” scenarios where both DOCs were completed and competed with each other – which officers don’t believe will happen.

They said the trade reduction impact on Grantham town centre would total 5.7% while the highest cumulative impact would fall on Newark-onTrent town centre with a ‘worst case’ figure of 9.7%, however, they reiterate the figures would fall under different more likely scenarios.

“Officers conclude that the proposal would not significantly harm the vitality or viability nor any planned investment in any existing town centres,” they said.

“To the contrary, notwithstanding some diversion of trade, considered overall, the proposed development would support and enhance Grantham’s status as a sub-regional centre and growth point.”

The previous planning permissions included “no poaching” clauses covering Grantham, Newark and Balderton town centres and agreements to promote the area within the shopping centre.