Of the additional floor space for comparison goods (clothes and household goods) expected to be required in Spalding by 2031, half will be allocated at Springfields. Over 2,500m2 – a 20 per cent growth of Springfields’ current retail area – is expected to be developed before 2021 and a similar amount in the following five years, eventually leading to a doubling of the 500 jobs which the site currently supports.
The new Local Plan – expected on Thursday (March 9) to be approved for public consultation and submission to the Secretary of State for adoption – says: “The more compact form of Spalding town centre and the unavailability of suitable land within or close to the town centre means that the additional floor space cannot be accommodated in accordance with the ‘town centres first’ approach.”
Springfields has welcomed the opportunity for growth, insisting that it “cannot stand still” as it faces increasing competition from the internet and other outlet centres.
The NFU Mutual, which has neighbouring premises in Camelgate, is known to have been in talks about a possible relocation.
Springfields, which opened in 2005, was always supposed to have been limited in what it could sell so that it didn’t compete with the town centre and draw trade away from it. However, there is an acceptance by South Holland District Council that that policy has never been properly enforced and now there is an even more relaxed approach to it.
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, vice-chairman of the South East Lincolnshire joint strategic planning committee and chairman of South Holland District Council’s planning committee, said: “We look forward to being active participants in their future prosperity.”
A spokesman for Springfields said: “We have actively engaged in the ongoing Local Plan process and have made the case for further retail space at Springfields to help meet the retail need identified in the council’s Retail Study. In the 12 years since we first opened, Springfields has become one of the area’s most visited tourist attractions, bringing more than 2.3 million people to Spalding each year, from far and wide. This supports significant local employment – of the circa 500 people who work here, 90 per cent live within a short drive.
“However, we cannot stand still. Springfields is one of the smallest outlet centres in the country striving to attract more national and international brands to Spalding.
“We have done well recently attracting Fat Face and other great names but have lost out on several occasions to top brands as we are not seen as substantial enough. We also face increasing competition from the internet and other outlet centres elsewhere.
“The Local Plan allocates additional retail space at Springfields, which would present an opportunity for further improvement of the centre and with it more jobs for local people. We welcome this and will continue to engage with the local authority and the plan process as it progresses.”