Ikea pulls out of Cuerden site
Ikea has announced that it is pulling out of the Cuerden development in South Ribble.
The company cited "economic reasons" for its decision which comes just 24 hours after Tesco pulled out of a plan to build a giant 24-hour superstore just a couple of miles away in Penwortham.
Ikea was set to be the flagship store at the Â£36m development, which which was recently re-branded Lancashire Central.
The site was expected to create 4,500 jobs in the area.
In a statement released this morning the company said the site was no longer viable following increased development costs and delays.
Richard Rands, IKEA UK and Ireland Property Manager, commented: “After careful consideration, IKEA UK and Ireland has decided not to progress with the planned development of an IKEA store at Cuerden Strategic Site.
"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.
"At IKEA, we want to be more accessible, bringing our unique home furniture expertise and product range closer to more customers, and we look forward to exploring new opportunities.”
The Leader of Lancashire County Council expressed his disappointment at the decision, but said the site still remained an attractive location for other businesses.
Cllr 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 intended main anchor occupier for the retail element of the strategic development site at Cuerden.
"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. This site is 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."
Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader of Preston City Council said: "We are disappointed to hear of IKEA's decision to withdraw from the Cuerden site.
"However the site continues to be one of significant potential for Central Lancashire, both in terms of location and scale. It remains our hope and intention that this development site will provide a range of job opportunities to Preston residents.
"We will continue to work with our City Deal partners to achieve the best possible outcome for the area. We are committed to our ambitious aspirations for Preston and Central Lancashire."
South Ribble Councillor Paul Wharton, who represents the Farington East Ward where the development site stands, admitted today he had mixed views on the announcement.
"Whilst this is really good news for some people - and I have some residents in my ward who will be ecstatic about the news IKEA are pulling out - others will feel a big disappointment because of the investment and the jobs it would have created.
"I have campaigned against the traffic problems in the past because I didn't think the scheme was adequate in that respect.
"But I find it very difficult to be in one camp or the other on this because views are very mixed in my ward which, after all, would have been more affected than any other part of South Ribble."
Leader of the Council, Councillor Mary Green, said: “We have been advised that IKEA are considering the future of their new store ear-marked for South Ribble.“The land at Cuerden, where it is set to be based, is one of our key strategic sites that will help create thousands of new jobs for residents and really boost our local economy.“While I would strongly urge IKEA to continue with their plans for the site, there remains a really strong demand for commercial space in South Ribble, given the excellent links to the motorway networks.“We will be working incredibly hard with Lancashire County Council and our partners in order to continue to bring the Cuerden site forward.”
South Ribble Councillor Claire Hamilton, who represents Leyland, said: "This is a massive shock.
"It is also very disappointing because it was going to bring jobs and investment into the area.
"There were quite a few concerns about traffic congestion and that it might lead to Leyland being gridlocked. But Lancashire County Council had given assurances that would be addressed and resolved.
"I'm personally disappointed that those jobs won't now be coming to the area."
A local protest group which opposed the Ikea development over concerns about increased traffic and congestion voiced their "relief" at the decision.
John Jones from Limit Cuerden said: "The news of Ikea pulling out of the Cureden development is a relief for the thousands of South Ribble residents living near the site.
"Their lives would have been ruined by a huge increase in traffic on a road network ill prepared for a development of this scale.
"The mitigating highways improvement measures that were proposed would have done little to stem the daily gridlock we already experience in Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge.
"What is a tragedy is that hundreds of trees have already been cleared from the site leaving a terrible blot on the landscape at the end of the M65. We would be interested to know how this will be made good in the interim.
"The news that hundreds of jobs will not now be created and the wider scheme is in jeopardy is less welcome.
"Limit Cuerden has been realistic in the knowledge that this site was always going to be developed. It's been earmarked for over 20 years. We wanted it done in a way that respected the local communities surrounding it.
"We sincerely hope that whatever is next for this land, that residents will be properly consulted and appropriate traffic measures to cope with the demand will be included."
The news comes three days after retail giant announced the appointment of Javier Quiñones as Country Retail Manager to lead the UK and Ireland business.