IKEA’s new store planned for the outskirts of Preston will be one of its largest in the UK.Advertisement
Detailed proposals for the furniture store along with the rest of the Cuerden development were unveiled to the public at a consultation event.
Nearby residents and businesses from South Ribble and beyond turned out at the borough council building for a chance to take a look at the proposals.
Representatives from IKEA, Lancashire County Council and the Eric Wright Group were on hand to answer queries about the long-mooted development just off the M65.
IKEA’s real estate and development manager for the UK & Ireland Tim Farlam said they had long held ambitions for a Lancashire store.
He said: “We first started looking many years back and Preston city centre was our first location – but there was nowhere big enough.
“So we worked outwards from there and really only Cuerden had the space we would need for a store like this to work.”
The Swedish furniture retailer is investing £60million in the store which is to be split over two levels and will be much larger than the current nearest IKEA at Warrington.
At 35,000 square feet it is only five thousand square foot smaller than their flagship Wembley store which is the largest IKEA currently in the UK.
Mr Farlam said: “We can see from our data just how far and how many people already travel from the PR postcodes and much further to visit us. Our aim is to ensure IKEA is as accessible as possible, so opening near Preston is the logical next step for us and the site is a great location with great connections.
“Also, for those worried, all kinds of meatballs will be served in the restaurant. That I can confirm.”
Read more: How Preston responded to IKEA coming to the city
IKEA is planning to recruit 350 staff if planning permission for the scheme is granted. Lancashire County Council say the Cuerden scheme as a whole would create 4,500 new jobs across retail, industrial and offices.
Asked about their recruitment process, Mr Farlam said: “We think we are a good company to work for, and we pay the Real Living Wage and I think that’s very important. Once planning permission is granted then we’ll start looking at recruitment.
A major concern raised regarding the Cuerden site is how the road network, which includes the A582 running alongside the site, can cope with the increased levels of traffic.
Mr Farlam said IKEA were working closely with highways officers at the county council and also bringing in their own traffic experts to advise based on how they solved traffic issues at other stores across the UK, the most recent being the store opening near Reading in West Berkshire which caused traffic gridlock for a number of weeks.
Leader of the county council Jennifer Mein was also at the consultation event and was keen to stress the Cuerden plan was crucial for Lancashire’s economic future.
She said: “I know there will be people worried about the impact of this but we are doing the work through the City Deal to ensure the road network can cope, for example widening the A582 has to be done before Cuerden is possible.
“We will be consulting closely with people who live nearby and ensuring they have a chance to influence the plans, that’s why we’re running events like this.
“I think there is a real buzz about this Cuerden plan, and not just because of IKEA. We have always held ambitions for this site and I think people are glad to see it happening.”
Asked about concerns raised by businesses in Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, councillor Mein said the development must complement it.
She said: “It’s not a retail development as such, only fifteen to twenty per cent is actually retail. And IKEA is very different, you go to IKEA for the reason of going there.
“With 4,500 new workers being on site I think there’s actually a good chance nearby places like Lostock and Bamber Bridge will benefit from more trade.
“We want IKEA here and not going somewhere else. It’s an important development and I really want people to have their say.”
Read more: Fears smaller retail centres will suffer due to IKEA
The county council’s head of strategic development Beckie Joyce was outlining the plans to residents who were attending.
She said: “There is a huge amount of work going on at the moment to look at the highways network.
“What I would say is we wouldn’t be progressing these plans if we didn’t think the roads in this area could take it.
“We also need to consider public transport and other parts of this scheme. For example lots of people have told us they are sick of HGVs coming off at Junction 28 of the M6, we might be able to get the signage sorted to stop this as part of Cuerden. As well as looking at which bus routes are going to serve the site – we are speaking to the likes of Stagecoach and Preston Bus about this.”
The consultation event drew in those from nearby and further afield.
David Norrington-Moore, from Brinscall, said: “I think the plans look good, but then again I don’t live right next to it.
“I heard CostCo had been interested in opening there too so hopefully that happens. I think it’s good for the area.”
Fiona Brindley, who lives near the site at Cuerden Valley park, said: “There’s no real surprises here but I just don’t understand how the traffic will work.
“The area is barely coping as it is and whatever they are doing for the City Deal isn’t working.
“I am very concerned about all the access points. If they put one on Wigan Road that just would be awful.”
The consultation events take place in the coming days:
Thursday 17 November – South Ribble Borough Council offices, Banqueting Suite, Leyland – 2pm-8pm
Friday 18 November- St Catherine’s Hospice, Garden Room, Cuerden – 2pm-8pm
Saturday 19 November – The Harris, Rotunda Area, Preston – 10am-4pm
You can also view the plans on the This is Cuerden website and people with questions regarding the development can contact the development team on 0800 089 0362 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think about Cuerden? Let us know in the comments below