A scheme by retail group TJ Morris has been recommended for approval, subject to call-in from the Secretary of State, when Liverpool City Council’s planning committee meets on 14 March.
The discount retailer, working with planning consultancy Quod, has submitted a hybrid application, going for full consent on the western half of the 11-acre former Rayware site on the northern side of Speke Boulevard. It intends to build a 26,000 sq ft flagship Home Bargains store, complete with garden centre, along with a 27,500 sq ft retail unit – which could be subdivided into three stores – and a 1,850 sq ft restaurant/leisure unit.
The scheme necessitates the demolition of the Booth House office block and includes a new access point from Evans Road.
Outline consent is being sought for the eastern part of the site, where up to 97,000 sq ft of industrial or distribution space could be built out.
The site sits to the south of the Venture Point industrial park and is recognised in the Unitary Development Plan as a primarily industrial area. Because it is not allocated as a site for large-scale out of town retail in the local development plan, it must be referred to the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government.
The officers’ report states that the benefits of the scheme, namely 100 jobs, dealing with a problem site, and £25m investment in the local area, outweigh the negative impacts and accepts the applicant’s claim that the retail element is necessary to make the industrial part workable.
Objections to the scheme have been received from a local councillor, referencing traffic congestion; local businesses questioning the suggested impact of the new store, and competitors B&M Retail – which has submitted three letters – and Asda, each citing the adverse impact on existing retail centres.