Broxbourne Council has stated that it does not want traditional warehousing to be built on a 24-acre site currently being marketed by IKEA for a price believed to be in the region of £100 million in Waltham Cross.
The site had been promoted for a 400,000ft2 customer fulfilment centre by IKEA in 2019 which would have provided some 460 jobs as well as allowing for the development of a bulky goods retail park.
In a development brief for the site, known as Park Plaza North, the council said, “Broxbourne has a very limited supply of high-quality employment land and the Council expects that sites will deliver an optimal contribution to the economic objectives of diversifying the local economy with well paid jobs in significant numbers.
“It is very unlikely that traditional warehousing will provide for those objectives and the Council is resistant to major warehouse development across a substantial area of the site. There may be other business uses that could maximise economic benefits and the Council would look favourably on such uses.
The Council has suggested that a number of the bulky goods retailers in the town such as Wickes, Homebase and furniture retailer, Fishpool, could relocate to the site with the remainder to be developed for an appropriate mix of B1, B2 and B8 uses.
“A flexible planning permission is not envisaged within these uses – rather the Council would anticipate placing proportionate limitations within that mix. The Council’s preferred form of development is of small units within a traditional trading estate as being of greatest economic and regenerative benefit to the borough.”
The conservative leader of the Council, Lewis Cocking, was reported to have said that although IKEA may have felt the development brief unnecessary and too restrictive, he believed that the brief should have used even stronger language around resisting warehouse development on the site.
It should be noted that the Council appointed AECOM to produce its Employment Land Assessment (ELS) in 2015. The final ELS – which informs the draft plan – was published 2016. Even back then, prior to the boom in demand for warehouse supply provoked by the move to online shopping, the ELS identified a need for an additional 1.73 million ft2/89 acres of land for B8 Warehousing ‘storage /distribution’ uses. Sites have yet to be allocated to meet this need.
IKEA is set to open its 450,000ft2 distribution warehouse at Bericote’s Powerhouse 450 in Dartford later this year.