Anchor tenant Ikea has backed out of opening its store at the £430m Cuerden development south of Preston in a move described as “extremely disappointing” by Lancashire County Council.
The retailer had been lined up as one of the development’s anchor tenants since 2016, but has now opted to back out citing “increased development costs and delays outside of Ikea’s control”.
Site investigations at Cuerden had already begun earlier this year, but in April it was revealed the cost of earthworks had nearly doubled in four months, rising from £2m to £4m.
Richard Rands, Ikea UK and Ireland property manager, 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.”
Cuerden, which is being brought forward by Lancashire County Council, Brookhouse Group, and Maple Grove Developments, is set to create 4,500 new jobs, around 350 of which would have been at the Ikea store.
Leader of Lancashire Council Cllr Geoff Driver slammed the move, announced on Thursday, and said discussions with the retailer would be held over the coming weeks.
“All parties agreed to the timescales more than a year ago and we have been working together consistently to meet all deadlines,” he said.
“We appreciate that there is a current state of uncertainty in the UK retail market generally, and we know there have been rising costs.
“However, this still remains a great investment opportunity. The site is in 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.”
The wider Cuerden site is due to include 861,000 sq ft of industrial space, 387,000 sq ft of offices, 757,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, an 120-bed 86,000 sq ft hotel, and 120,500 sq ft for a gym, crèche and car showroom. It secured planning approval last year.