The future of a major development scheme in South Ribble has been thrown into doubt as IKEA has announced it will pull out.Advertisement
The Swedish furniture retail giant was due to build its second-largest UK store at the Cuerden site.
BBC Lancashire is reporting they have now abandoned the proposals and told Lancashire County Council they will no longer be building the £60million store.
IKEA UK and Ireland property manager Richard Rands said: “After careful consideration, IKEA UK and Ireland has decided not to progress with the planned development of an IKEA store at Cuerden Strategic Site, Preston.
“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.”
IKEA was the main partner in the development, which is costing more than £200million and would include housing, other retailers and office space.
The county council say around 4,500 jobs are due to be created as part of the scheme, which is off the M65 junction and the A582.
Last week the county council’s cabinet were asked to approve a further investment in the Cuerden site of more than £1.5million.
Restricted from the public the report asked for the cabinet to consider and approve additional borrowing to support the delivery of the Cuerden site.
It was due to ‘a revised cost plan identifying significant increases and changes to the previous plan reported to cabinet in September 2017’.
The item was deferred at the meeting on Thursday 10 May.
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The IKEA store itself was given planning approval by South Ribble Borough Council in September last year.
Archaeological and borehole work has begun at the Cuerden site with excavation work also beginning on the roundabout where the M65 begins.
Leader of South Ribble Borough Council councillor Mary Green said: “I am bitterly disappointed to learn that IKEA has withdrawn its plans to open a new store in South Ribble, as I know many residents will be too.
“The land at Cuerden is one of our key strategic sites and is perfectly located with direct access to the main motorway networks.
“There is a significant demand for commercial space in our borough and we will be working incredibly hard with Lancashire County Council and our partners to maximise the potential of this site – with a commitment to creating new jobs and boosting the local economy.
“South Ribble is a prime location for business, already being home to the likes of DAF, Waitrose and Dr Oetker, and it’s the perfect destination to re-locate too – having being voted the Best Place to Live in the UK.”
Leader of Lancashire County Council, 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.
“All parties agreed to the timescales more than a year ago and we have been working together consistently to meet all deadlines.
“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.”
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Deputy leader of Preston City Council councillor Peter Moss 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.”
Campaign group Limit Cuerden run by nearby resident John Jones 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.
“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.”
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