Lancashire County Council, Brookhouse Group and Maple Grove Developments have begun preparatory work on the 160-acre, £430m Cuerden strategic site to the south of Preston.
The vast site close to the M65 forms part of the Preston, South Ribble & Lancashire City Deal programme, which in total is expected to create 20,000 jobs and 17,000 homes.
Planning for the scheme was granted by South Ribble Council in September 2017, with construction anticipated to begin later this year.
Maple Grove Developments, which forms part of Eric Wright Group, and Brookhouse Group were appointed as development partners by Lancashire County Council. Cuerden is due to be delivered in phases over the coming decade.
DLA Architecture, Barton Willmore, Lambert Smith Hampton, B8 Real Estate and JLL are advising on the project.
The Cuerden site will 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. Ikea has been secured as a pre-let tenant.
The University of Salford’s archaeological department will be carrying out investigative digs across approximately 15 trenches, each up to 40m long. These excavations will take around two weeks.
A trial borehole will be drilled towards the east of the site, to establish if the site is a suitable location for a ground source heat pump. The testing equipment will remain in the ground for around a week, before it is removed and the land will be fully restored.
As part of the site preparation, some trees will be protected and some will be removed from the plantation at the eastern area of the site, where the first phase of development will take place. This is planned to start in early February, with temporary vehicle access to the site from the A49 during this work.
Cllr Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning at Lancashire County Council said: “This initial work follows extensive ecological and environmental assessment and is required to prepare the site for construction.
“Cuerden 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. The Cuerden development will provide the necessary investment to make this a reality.”