A consultation on plans for Royal London’s expansion at its Wilmslow campus will begin on Friday, but the mutual pension provider has said relocation options “are still on the table”.
Outline planning permission for Royal London’s 180,000 sq ft expansion in Wilmslow was granted last August, but the insurer had already appointed Lambert Smith Hampton to advise on alternative locations, if Cheshire East Council is unable to remove the planning restrictions around its current site.
Cheshire East’s emerging Local Plan includes the plots around the Royal London’s current HQ on Alderley Road as appropriate for employment use, taking them out of the green belt in a bid to keep the employer in the area. However, the plan is yet to be implemented as a statutory document.
Royal London is looking at other sites towards Manchester Airport and Macclesfield. Building out the Wilmslow site, but still relocating away from the area, is also an option.
Royal London employs 950 staff in the town, which it has previously said will increase to 1,500 people if new premises are built.
Cheshire East Council approved a draft regeneration framework for the site at a meeting yesterday. The proposals include using the campus and surrounding land to deliver 170 homes, a total of 250,000 sq ft of employment space for “similar knowledge-led occupiers”, and a hotel, alongside community uses.
Property Alliance Group is the development partner in Wilmslow, while How Planning and AHR Architects are advising on the regeneration framework.
Cllr Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “Royal London already employs more than 1,200 people at its Wilmslow headquarters and is a key employer in the town. This framework provides the opportunity to bring more and better employment opportunities to the area.
“I strongly encourage Cheshire East residents, not just those in Wilmslow, to get involved in the consultation process and have a say in shaping this discussion.”
The consultation will run from Friday 23 June to Friday 4 August. There will also be a consultation drop-in event at Wilmslow Leisure Centre from 2pm-7pm on Tuesday 4 July, where planning officers will be on hand to answer questions from the public.
The draft development framework, comments form and document with FAQs can be viewed at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/localplan from Friday 23 June.