Britain’s first combined shopping centre and fishing complex has been given planning permission.
The £35m IntoOutdoors site will include tackle shops, two lakes and a stretch of the River Avon near Evesham in Worcestershire.
The site’s key feature will be the chance for anglers to instantly road-test tackle before buying, according to Devon-based developer Eagle One.
The venue, which is set to open in summer 2014 after work begins in January, will also include a 45-unit retail park in its 125-acre setting. Restaurants, cafés, cycle routes and 60 holiday lodges are also planned.
IntoOutdoors said the lakes are likely to be run as day-ticket waters as well as ‘try before you buy’ arenas.
Top all-rounder Jan Porter, who lives in Evesham, said he feels for existing local tackle dealers but admitted this American-style centre has been a long time coming.
He said: “My first feeling as an ex-tackle retailer is it’s going to have an impact locally and my concerns are for those shops, but we are living in a very fast-moving world and when I sold my business in 1989 I saw there would eventually be these superstores and I was going to get eaten alive.
“From a commercial viewpoint, it’s an exciting venture. We are becoming American in Europe and this is like the Bass Pro places, where you pretty much go there for the weekend. It’s a retailing colossus.
“Retailing is becoming an event and that’s why people will take to it, and they’ve got a massive captive audience.
“For anybody who goes there I think it’ll be a great opportunity to get professional advice and road-test equipment. I can’t see it not being a success, providing they give people what they want.”
The new centre will replace a smaller outlet centre, Evesham Country Park, which currently occupies the land.
Simone Tothill, director of the project, said: “IntoOutdoors is a unique retail concept which offers an alternative to traditional and internet-based retailing.
“We believe it will succeed by making the shopping experience a truly leisure-based activity, with IntoOutdoors designed to appeal to all age groups.
“A retail environment where you can ‘try before you buy’ is an intrinsic part of our offer, not only do consumers get a memorable hands-on shopping experience in an idyllic setting, but retailers benefit from showing products to their full potential.”