Halton Council has granted planning permission for a 1.4m sq ft extension to Stobart's logistics park in Widnes on the banks of the Mersey.
Stobart Park, which is part of the Mersey Multimodal Gateway (3MG) and claims to be the only fully rail connected development site in the North West, is one of few large 'oven-ready' sites available to occupiers in the region at present.
It is understood the Stobart extension at 3MG is being positioned as a substitute site for the 1.2m sq ft Amazon requirement if its initial choice of Prologis on land next door is rejected at a judicial review into planning consent later this month. A challenge by Hale Bank Council is due to be heard at the High Court in Manchester on 28 and 29 May.
A request to High Court judge His Hon Philip Raynor on Monday by the parish council to have its costs protected in the event of losing the judicial review was successful. Hale Bank Council's costs for the hearing have been set at a maxiumum of £7,500. Halton Council's were set at £22,500. Halton also had to pay Hale Bank's costs for yesterday's half-day hearing of £2,000.
Stobart Park is already home to Tesco, which has taken two buildings with a combined floorspace of 528,000 sq ft to service its stores throughout the North West.
Jason Print of joint letting agents, Cushman & Wakefield, comments: "Stobart Park is at the heart of a development of international significance. It offers the best logistics location in the North West and is the only truly rail connected development site in the region. The on-site rail freight interchange offers occupiers financial savings and environmental benefits in their supply chain, a factor which is becoming increasingly important to occupiers. In addition Stobart Park benefits from on site sustainable power plant and as easy access to the major motorway networks. This scheme is of great significance to Halton Borough Council, which has worked closely with the developer and potential occupiers helping to secure a strong workforce."
Richard Butcher, Stobart Group deputy chief executive, said: "We welcome the news from Halton Council that the planning application has been approved. We believe that the site is the best logistics location in the North West, and with this new development and full rail connectivity, will realise its full potential. As Stobart Group, we will of course be offering full multimodal services as well, and biomass facilities for sustainable power, making this a flagship UK distribution park with far-reaching benefits for employment and the broader economy in the region."
David Brooks of joint letting agents, Jones Lang LaSalle, added: "This is great news for the North West economy as a whole, as there is currently a dire shortage of large, readily deliverable employment sites, with rapid access to the major motorways and more importantly the strategic UK rail network. The site can accommodate some of the largest active logistics requirements currently in the marketplace of up to 1m sq ft and also has the ability to provide fully automated warehouses with eaves heights up to circa 40m. Freehold and leasehold build-to-suit packages can be offered to both the logistics and rapidly improving manufacturing sectors. We believe that the quality and flexibility of the local workforce and the direct link to the main West Coast line from the fully operational rail freight terminal, will be other key factors in the schemes success."