A massive new Lancashire employment site - creating 4,000 permanent jobs - has been slammed by protestors after it was given the go ahead by planning councillors.
The Cuerden Strategic Site is forecast to bring around £241m a year to the central Lancashire economy, creating thousands of permanent jobs in addition to thousands of construction jobs.
A new flagship Ikea store will be built at the site which is at the end of the M65 between Lostock Hall and Farington.
The application was made by Lancashire County Council and Maple Grove Developments, part of the Eric Wright Group, in association with Brookhouse Group.
South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee gave it the go ahead on Tuesday, however not everyone is happy.
John Jones, spokesperson for the Limit Cuerden protest group, said: “Obviously we’re disappointed, the decision condemned South Ribble to a generation of congestion, pollution and fifteen years-worth of noise from the construction.
“We were staggered at the incompetency of the planning committee - they seem to be in love with the developers. There was no robust challenging, no questioning. They were bowled over by the prospect of money and investment, but they’ve completely ignored the wishes of local residents. We were told this decision would be made at the planning committee in November and out of the blue it suddenly appeared on the agenda paper last night and gave no notice to the people who live nearby, whose lives are going to be ruined, to come forward.”
Councillor Peter Mullineaux, leader at South Ribble Borough Council, said: “This is a monumental decision for South Ribble – unlocking our biggest employment
development site and creating once-in-a-generation economic opportunities for the whole borough.
“South Ribble has rightly earnt a reputation as a fantastic place to do business and Cuerden will provide the infrastructure for us to continue to grow and bring more major employers to our area.
“As with all decisions, residents are always our priority and we are absolutely committed to working hard with the developer to ensure this site is delivered with their best interests at heart.”
County councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council said: “We are pleased that these plans, that will deliver significant economic benefits,
including creating over 4,500 new jobs locally have been approved by South Ribble’s planning committee.
“The Cuerden Strategic Site has been earmarked as a major new employment site for many years, but the lack of infrastructure to service the site has held back
development. These proposals will provide the necessary investment to make this a reality.
“We know from local people that there are concerns about traffic, but these plans will provide investment to reduce hotspots in this part of South Ribble. Highways England and our own highways department were both consulted and they are happy
with these proposals.
“This is the largest single site being delivered by the City Deal, and this is another step forward for our ambitions to bring thousands of new jobs to the area and boost the economy, along with a major investment in the road network.”
The high-quality development will provide around 200,000 sq m of floor space, and in turn will deliver a new IKEA for central Lancashire, five further large format retail units and significant new employment space, alongside new cycle and footways, new homes, a small foodstore, a hotel, car showrooms, family pub and restaurants.
Jeremy Hartley, from Eric Wright Group, said: “The planning decision taken by members to approve the plans for the Cuerden Strategic Site is excellent news for
the economy of central Lancashire. It will now allow the commencement of the significant infrastructure required to unlock the site which in turn will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs for local communities.
“There has been a lot of interest in the scheme from potential future occupiers and we will now work hard to take the project forward.”
Brookhouse Group surveyor, Ben Scandrett, said: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome and very much look forward to entering into delivery stage. Given the site’s credentials including its accessibility to M65, M6 & M61 it comes as no surprise that we are already receiving enquiries from occupiers seeking
representation. We will continue to work closely with Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Borough Council to bring forward a scheme that will elevate Cuerden into contention amongst the top tier of employment sites in the North West region.”
Richard Rands, IKEA UK and Ireland property manager, said: “We are delighted that the planning application for the Cuerden Strategic Development has been
approved. We are really excited to bring our home furnishing offer to Preston and Lancashire along with the new jobs that the proposed IKEA store will create. We look forward to continuing to work with the Lancashire County Council.”
County councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for economic development, who also represents the Cuerden area, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to minimise the impact of this major development to local residents, while bringing so many job opportunities both locally and to the wider population of
The City Deal will help to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and see over 17,000 new homes built across the area, along with new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population.