Lancashire Central scheme timeline: How project recovered from Ikea blow as new vision is unveiled

It’s been four years since furniture giants Ikea pulled out of plans to build a new store in South Ribble.

By Thomas Anderson
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 5:03 pm

A proposal to build what would have been the North West’s largest Ikea store in Lancashire fell through after an increase in the development costs.

A new planning application for the site - which is close to the junction of the M6 and M61 motorways at Cuerdale – is being prepared for land owners Lancashire County Council, and if approved, work on the initial infrastructure could begin later this year on what is now a logistics and distribution hub.

Here’s a reminder of some of the key moments over the last five-and-a-half years.

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The Cuerden site which was originally planned to be an Ikea

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Plans revealed for Lancashire Central development site where an Ikea store was o...

November 2016: Ikea announces plans to build a new store in Lancashire which will create 4,500 jobs. The site, which planners hope will attract people from all over the country, will also include: up to 210 new homes, a 120-bedroom hotel, family pub and restaurants, as well as significant highways improvement alongside new pedestrian, cycling and jogging paths.

December 2017: It was announced the first phase of construction would start on the store in 2018.

March 2018: Groundworks and drainage is completed at the Cuerden site, and building work is set to start in the coming weeks.

May 2018: The Swedish furniture giants leave Lancashire City County feeling “extremely disappointed” when suddenly revealing they are pulling out of the deal. A month earlier it was revealed the cost of earthworks had risen from £2m to £4m, and as a result, the ‘increased development costs and delays outside of IKEA’s control no longer makes the location viable.’

April 2019: The project reveals a name change to the Lancashire Central scheme, with a focus away from retail and instead to the creation of a logistics and distribution hub.

February 2020: Property developer Maple Grove Developments is appointed to the Lancashire Central project. The developers are part of the Eric Wright Group and based at Walton Summit.

February 2022: The county council says it is almost ready to reveal fresh plans to switch Lancashire Central from a retail park to an employment site. The matter will be discussed by cabinet members but exact details are likely to be heard behind closed doors because some material is still considered to be commercially sensitive.

April 2022: A more detailed blueprint emerges to reveal an expected 2,000 jobs will be generated as well as hundreds of temporary work during the construction phase. There are similarities to the original plan, with food and drink outlets, a car showroom and environmental improvements still in place. However, it estimates the permanent jobs tally will be less than half of the 4,500 which would have been available in the previous scheme and 116 homes will be built – almost 100 less than what was originally planned. Steve Burns, head of strategic development at Lancashire County Council, said that the plans for Lancashire Central were “exciting proposals for [a] key strategic employment site in the heart of the county”.