Northamptonshire shopping village owner relieved and excited to get go-ahead to almost double in size

'It's been a long time, about four years, so we're really pleased to get the council's support'

Friday, 5th November 2021, 8:56 am
Heart of the Shires on the A5 near Norton

The owner of a Northamptonshire shopping village is relieved and excited to get the go-ahead from the council to almost double in size.

West Northamptonshire Council's Daventry area planning committee approved the application to build a plant centre and more retail space plus extra parking at Heart of the Shires on Tuesday (November 2).

Jeremy Hunt, who owns the shopping centre off the A5, was delighted after working on the plans for around four years and hopes to have it open by spring 2023.

"The whole reason for doing it was to support the tenants up there as the plant centre will help concentrate the horticultural element and leave the tenants to concentrate on their businesses," he said.

"When it's sunny it's quieter but with the horticulture that should bring it to a level playing field and attract more people during the summer."

The Heart of the Shires has permission to build a two-storey plant centre in the style agricultural Dutch barn, a U-shaped, single storey building for three retail units and another single storey building for a shop.

Jeremy explained the plant centre is an area they have always wanted to go into having 'dabbled' in the past so it will give them a chance to offer a wide range of horticulture.

"We've never had a big enough space to do it properly so it worked in the spring and summer but floundered in the winter and autumn when most people are going inside," he said.

"So we're confident we can fill it all with bespoke stuff that's different to anything around and have bigger specimens of plants and cater for everyday needs in garden and horticulture."

The new retail space is primarily for current tenants to grow as they want to stay at the shopping village as there is currently not many opportunities to expand.

Jeremy said: "Being honest, we don't know if we need to attract more tenants as the majority of them want to shuffle around and to grow their space.

"So if one goes to the new-build, then others can replace them - they prefer it here and don't want to go to Daventry or Towcester."

The application also includes 42 extra parking spaces, which Jeremy said would really help when they have events as that is when it can become an issue.

While the storage containers currently on the field where the new buildings are going will be sunk into the ground and have more landscaping around them to make them blend in more.

Jeremy, who also runs Whilton Locks Garden Village, hopes the work will begin in the spring with the plant centre opening 12 months later.

"It's been a long time, about four years, so we're really pleased to get the council's support," he added.