Building work for Leighton Buzzard’s fully-approved retail park is scheduled to begin in mid 2017, with Wickes revealed as the key anchor tenant for the development.
KFC has also been named as taking on the drive-thru unit, with developers Claymore saying that a “large proportion of space” at the Grovebury Road site has now been allocated and the park is earmarked for a late summer 2018 opening date.
Central Beds councillors approved the finer details of the Claymore park – as well as giving approval to outline plans for a rival EDS retail park at the nearby Camden site – at Wednesday’s meeting of its development management committee.
Progress with the Claymore park – which as well as Wickes and KFC will also include four other warehouse units – has been held up by appeals and legal challenges since being given outline planning permission in November 2013.
Stephen Cole, co-founder of the Claymore Group, said he was delighted to have secured the reserved matters approval from CBC and was looking forward to pressing on with retail park.
But he said the legal challenges had caused difficulties and delay.
He said: “The knock-on effects of this challenge was to shorten by a year the time available to pre-let the approved scheme and to enable development to be brought forward.
“This has proven to be challenging due to the changes in the retailer occupier market and the wider political and economic landscape.
“It was extremely frustrating, particularly as a succession of judges in the High Court and Court of Appeal emphatically rejected the claim made against the council’s decision.
“We worked very hard with our advisers to keep the tenants up to date with our progress and to reassure them that the project will be delivered.
“This position has now been vindicated for them and for us.
“We are pleased to report that a large proportion of the space has now been committed including an agreement for a long-term lease of the anchor unit to Wickes, and we are at an advanced stage with a number of occupiers for the remainder of the space.
“It is anticipated that the outstanding agreements for lease will be completed following the approval of the reserved matters application.
“This will enable work to commence in mid 2017 with the support of a major institutional investor and for the other benefits of the proposal to follow in Section 106 contributions towards town centre initiatives and transport connectivity.”
Mr Cole added: “As you will have heard at the planning committee meeting, our retail park has very strong support from the officers and members of Central Bedfordshire Council and we know from our original public exhibition that it has the overwhelming backing of the people of Leighton Linslade. Now, at last, we can get on with delivering this exciting new development.
“We look forward to making an announcement of our full tenant line-up in the very near future. We expect to have the park open by late summer 2018.”