Revealed: What Lancashire County Council have already spent on Cuerden

Posted on - 30th August, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Bamber Bridge, Business, Lostock Hall, Politics, Preston News, Redevelopment
Aerial view of the Cuerden development
Aerial view of the Cuerden development

As work resumes on the Cuerden site we can reveal how much it’s already cost – with no flagship store signed up yet to anchor the development.

IKEA pulled out of the site, which is where the M65 starts in South Ribble , triggering doubts over whether the scheme would go ahead.

A Freedom of Information request by Blog Preston shows since April 2016 more than £2.4million has been spent on work at the ‘Lancashire Central’ development.

Half of the cost is on the building and landscaping work that had begun ahead of the IKEA store and other buildings on the site taking shape, a total of £1.204million.

Planning application and legal costs up to July this year total nearly £300,000 and the county council has paid out £387,102 to divert utilities on the site.

The Swedish furniture store confirmed in May it would not be proceeding with the plans to build the second-largest IKEA in the UK, blaming ‘rising costs’ and ‘delays’ with the Cuerden site.

Lancashire County Council urged IKEA to re-consider but has now said it is exploring other options for the development.

Read more: Preston Youth Zone scrapped despite protests

Alongside the retail park there’s due to be a mix of housing, offices and industrial units built along the side of the A582.

Cuerden, if it goes ahead, would create 4,500 jobs in South Ribble and Preston.

Here’s everything that has been spent so far, and what it’s been spent on, as shown by the FOI request to the county council.

Site investigations – £52,000.50
Costs to planning application (development and legal) – £292,768
Fees (external project management) – £141,345
Fees (external design) – £76,429
Fees (other) – £7,330.93
Work costs (utility diversions) – £387,102.69
Site works costs – £1,204,373.79
Design and site supervision – £270,107.21
Total (from 1 April 2016-July2018) – £2,431,457.12

Work on the site resumed during August to secure and protect the development done so far.

Executive director for growth, environment, transport and community services at Lancashire County Council, Stephen Young, said: “Good progress had already been made on preparing the site for development, but this work has temporarily stopped while discussions take place with our partners and other companies about the future of this key site.

“Later this month we’ll be starting work on some measures to secure the site and protect the site preparation work that we’ve already done. This could take a few months to carry out, with the majority of the activity taking place within the area of the previous temporary work.

“We’re very clear that this continues to be a key development site that could bring a significant number of jobs to the area, and we continue to explore options for the future development of Lancashire Central.”

Read more: Broughton crossroads to see further changes to ‘improve safety’

Timeline of the Cuerden development so far

Early 2000s – Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Borough Council identify the area as a ‘strategic site’

2012 – Lancashire County Council buys an additional 44 hectares from the Homes and Communities Agency to make up what is now the current Cuerden site

October 2014 – An initial ‘masterplan’ for the Cuerden site, which is 65 hectares, is submitted to South Ribble Borough Council.

Proposals outline it would create 2,500 jobs and include 2million square foot of floor space.

November 2014 – Three public events are held to showcase the Cuerden plans, and it is permanently on display at the SRBC Civic Centre in Leyland

John Jones begins the Limit Cuerden campaign and says the size of the development should be limited due to its impact on the road network, particularly the A582 dual carriageway.

December 2014 – The North West Ambulance Service give their feedback on the masterplan for Cuerden, and raie concerns about their ambulance response times being affected by the potential traffic.

February 2015 – The county council consult on widening the A582, trying to make it dual carriageway for most of the route from the M65 junction through to Penwortham.

August 2016 – The Lancashire Post reports the Cuerden site could be used for a new ‘super hospital’ to replace both Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley.

October 2016 – After a period of quiet, there’s an environmental report put in by consultants Barton Wilmore about the scheme.

We learn 150 new homes would be included in the scheme as well as 100,000 square metres of office space and industrial units.

November 2016 – IKEA are announced as signing up to the Cuerden scheme.

How the IKEA store at Cuerden may look
How the IKEA store at Cuerden would have looked

The leader of the county council at the time Jennifer Mein (Labour) hails the Cuerden development as a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’.

Eric Wright Group and the Brookhouse Group are announced as development partners.

The development is now due to deliver 4,500 jobs, a new hotel, car showrooms, a family pub and restaurants.

The number of homes increases to 210.

Concerns are raised about the impact on the town and village centres of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge by the new Cuerden retail park.

Consultation events take place at the SRBC offices, St Catherine’s Hospice and the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.

IKEA give more details at the consultation meeting, saying it will be their second-largest UK store. The store would cost £60million to build.

February 2017 – The full plans for the Cuerden development are submitted to South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee.

John Jones from Limit Cuerden says ‘residents have been ignored’ during the consultation process and the plans will put the A582 ‘over capacity’.

May 2017 – ‘Fundamental issues’ with the Cuerden plan raised by Highways England mean any decision on its future is delayed.

July 2017 – South Ribble Borough Council’s environmental health officer raises concerns about the flood-risk at the site.

He says more needs to be done because there is already low-level flooding at the Cuerden site.

August 2017 – Chorley Council wade into the Cuerden plans, they demand an £11.5million compensation package from the county council if it goes ahead.

In letters to South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee they say the scheme would threaten their proposals for Chorley town centre.

The owners of the St George’s Shopping Centre in Preston, Infared, also express concern saying there must be a ‘no poaching’ rule to stop retailers leaving the city for Cuerden.

September 2017 – Fishergate Shopping Centre’s owners Benson Elliott table concerns, saying Next and Marks and Spencers could decide to leave Preston for Cuerden.

Despite these concerns, South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee vote through the Cuerden proposals unanimously.

New county council leader, councillor Geoff Driver, who was returned to power with a Conservative majority in May 2017, said at the time: “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.”

January 2018 – Work starts on the Cuerden site, with boreholes drilled and archaeological excavations.

May 2018 – IKEA say they are pulling the plug on the sote.

Their UK and Ireland property manager Richard Rands said: “Our decision is due to increased development costs and delays outside of IKEA’s control which no longer make this location viable.”

Cllr Driver said: “This is extremely disappointing and we will hold discussions over the next few weeks with IKEA, the main anchor occupier for the retail element of the strategic development site at Cuerden.

“All parties agreed to the timescales more than a year ago and we have been working together consistently to meet all deadlines.”

June 2018 – The county council confirm further discussions with IKEA have not brought any resolution.

Cllr Driver says: “However we are confident that this prime site will be very attractive to other companies with vision and aspirations, and are therefore looking at other options for the site.”

August 2018 – The county council announce work to ‘protect’ and ‘secure’ the Cuerden site will be taking place over the coming months.

What do you think about the Cuerden development? What would you like to see go there? Let us know in the comments below

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