Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has thrown out a planning application by London & Cambridge Properties for a 21,800 sq m factory outlet centre at Burntwood in Staffordshire.

The decision leaves the rival Shannons Mill scheme in Walsall with a clear run to become the only factory outlet mall in the West Midlands. The region has long been seen as the last significant gap in the UK outlet market.

The Burntwood scheme was dismissed as being out of scale for its catchment and too dependent on car-borne shoppers. But the developers of Shannons Mill - St Modwen Developments and WA Goold - insist that their scheme is in keeping with planning policy because it is located in Walsall town centre. Work will begin in the spring and should be completed by summer next year.

Marketing began at Shannons Mill last year and the scheme has already attracted significant interest from high-end brand operators. At present, 3,650 sq m out of the 14,000 sq m of phase one is in solicitors’ hands.

St Modwen Developments retail director Derek West said: ‘Shannons Mill has always been an attractive prospect. However, the uncertainty around the Burntwood scheme cast a slight shadow over our discussions with a handful of retailers, who wanted to see what the outcome of the public inquiry would be.

‘Now our way is clear not only to let the scheme, but to select the operators that we feel will best suit this development, and to get the tenant mix absolutely right.’

Markham Vaughan Gillingham and Lambert Smith Hampton are the letting agents.