IKEA pulls out of Cuerden

The leader of Lancashire County Council has spoken of his “extreme disappointment” after Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced it was withdrawing from plans to build a new store in the county.

Ikea

IKEA planned to take a unit on the 65 hectare site in Cuerden, which is being developed to provide employment, retail, housing and leisure facilities.

The Cuerden Strategic Site, recently named ‘Lancashire Central’, is the largest employment site within the City Deal Programme.

IKEA was to have been the anchor retail tenant of the flagship development creating 350 jobs at the new store.

The aim of the £36m Cuerden plan is to create around 4,500 new jobs in a variety of sectors including office, retail, manufacturing, logistics, catering and hospitality.

Council leader Geoff Driver said: “IKEA have notified us that they wish to withdraw their plans for a new store at the Cuerden development site.

“This is extremely disappointing and we will hold discussions over the next few weeks with IKEA, the main anchor occupier for the retail element of the strategic development site at Cuerden.

“All parties agreed to the timescales more than a year ago and we have been working together consistently to meet all deadlines.

“We appreciate that there is a current state of uncertainty in the UK retail market generally, and we know there have been rising costs. However, this still remains a great investment opportunity.

“The site is in a very sought after location, right on the motorway network with planning consent already granted. Lancashire County Council will continue to work hard with their partners, the Eric Wright Group and Brookhouse, to ensure they reach the best possible outcome for Lancashire.”

The Swedish furniture giant had started groundworks for the store, which was due to open in 2020. Its arrival was much heralded.

However, IKEA served notice on Thursday, saying the site was "no longer viable".

The BBC reported property manager Richard Rands saying: “Our decision is due to increased development costs and delays outside of IKEA’s control which no longer make this location viable.

“We will continue to look for new sites and opportunities in this area as part of our commitment to expansion in the UK.”

Campaign group Limit Cuerden tweeted it was “clearly bad news about lack of jobs”, but added it was “hugely relieved about the traffic.”