New plans revealed for Cuerden

A new logistics-led future for the Cuerden strategic development site in South Ribble has been revealed by Lancashire County Council chiefs.

The future of the key site, near the M6 and M65 motorways, was thrown in doubt last year when store giant Ikea pulled out of its role as anchor tenant in a planned retail-led development.

The council has now revealed alternative proposals for the 65-hectare ‘Lancashire Central’ site after what it describes as “extensive analysis of future business needs” and discussions with the private sector.

It estimates that more than 3,000 jobs will be created - 1,500 less than the original scheme - and that the new plan will lead to more than £250m of public and private sector investment and around £200m in annual Gross Value Added (GVA).

The scheme aims to create 600,000 sq ft for logistics or other non-retail use, 260,000 sq ft of mixed commercial use such as food retail, a hotel and car sales, 130,000 sq ft for business and industrial hybrid units, and up to 210 homes.

Around 840,000 sq ft has been designated for general employment, such as logistics, warehousing and light industrial units.

The plans also include improvements to five key road junctions, adding capacity to the road network around this site.

All of the ingredients for a successful development are in place.

All plans are subject to planning approval and could change based on market demand. The county council’s ambition is that the first occupiers could be on site by 2021.

The estimated timescale for the whole site has also reduced from 10 to 12 years, to six to eight years, “due to strong market interest”, as well as the new approach to the development of the site.

The county council will invest money upfront to get the project up and running. It says it is in discussions with potential partners.

Stephen Young, the council’s executive director for growth, environment, transport and community services, told Lancashire Business View: “When Ikea decided to go in a different direction we took the opportunity to look at the site and consider the best way forward.”

Describing the logistic sector as “white hot” he added: “This site could not be better placed.”

He added: “While people have only seen some initial preparatory work on site, we’ve been working at an incredible pace to re-imagine the scheme, plan this ambitious project and prepare it for investment in less than 12 months.

“We’ve been in discussions with potential partners and businesses who are looking to invest and grow here, so that we can build momentum once work starts on site.”

“Now that the council cabinet has given the go-ahead, we’ll be working to agree a development partner, who can bring their expertise to the scheme.

“We are also now in a position to start planning for the major highways work that will be needed to bring access to this site from the M65, as well as other key highway improvements that will add capacity to the network.”

He said that although fewer jobs were proposed compared to the original scheme they would be higher in value. And he added: “All of the ingredients for a successful development are in place.”