Developer Praxis will begin infrastructure work on the first plots in its 2.5m sq ft business park on the former RAF Sealand base in Deeside in the coming months.
Flintshire County Council's planning committee voted unanimously to grant outline planning consent to Praxis for the redevelopment of 250-acre site next to the established Deeside industrial estate and within the Deeside enterprise zone.
The 250-acre site, now branded The Airfields, can accommodate circa 2.5 million sq ft of industrial accommodation in units of up to 1m sq ft. The North West shed market is currently experiencing a shortage of prime sites for large units.
The outline consent also comprises 90,000 sq ft of A1 retail and 725 residential units. Negotiations are underway with a number of national house builders for the 20-acre first phase. The Airfields benefits from direct access to the A5550 dual carriageway and is only two miles from junction 16 of the M56.
The terms of EZ status are currently subject of negotiation between Treasury and Welsh Government, but will include enhanced capital allowances on investment in technology, plant and machinery; business rate holidays; and a streamlined planning process. Certain areas within the Deeside EZ will have 100% capital allowances, making them more attractive to manufacturing suppliers to major local employers such as Airbus, Tata Steel Colors, paper mill UPM and Toyota. Details about the locations and limits of the best capital allowances have yet to be announced.
Praxis acquired the site in July 2010 from Defence Estates and worked with the local authority and Welsh Government to develop plans for the site. Work on the initial infrastructure and enabling works will start on site later in spring or summer 2012, with serviced plots being brought forward towards the end of the year.
Peter Disley, development manager of Praxis, said: "This is great news for Deeside. We are making a significant investment in the area and are committed to bringing forward an exemplar mixed-use development that offers a good balance of housing and commercial space. We are delighted that the council has shown its unanimous support for our proposals and look forward to developing this strong working partnership between public and private sector over the coming years."
Jason Print of Cushman & Wakefield in Manchester, joint agent for the scheme, added: "Over the last six months, there have been some major requirements of over 500,000 sq ft in the industrial sector of the market but the supply of stock of this size is becoming increasingly scarce. The Airfields has the potential to be a major player in the big shed market in the North West due to its motorway connectivity, excellent power supply, available workforce and competitive deals, all underpinned by the area's EZ status.
"Praxis has produced an ambitious master-plan, which is commercially deliverable and responds effectively to current market conditions. This consent, combined with Praxis's ability to deliver quickly and the strong public sector support makes the Airfields one of the most attractive propositions for occupiers with major requirements in the North West."
Chris Jones, of planning consultants NJL Consulting, said: "This site has been recognised for its strategic importance in North Wales for the best part of 10 years. It has been adopted in the Flintshire Unitary Development Plan as a major employment and housing site. The proposals that we are putting forward retain the core elements identified in the UDP and extend them to create a genuine mixed-use scheme that incorporates the necessary community, leisure and retail elements essential to support a vibrant and sustainable business and residential community."
NJL Consulting are the planning consultants for the scheme with Aecom acting as master-planner. Cushman & Wakefield in Manchester and Burbage Realty are joint agents on the scheme.
Praxis is a privately owned real estate investor registered in the Isle of Man, with offices in Manchester and Monaco.