More than a year after the Government called in the projects, the industrial developments from Harworth Group and Tritax Symmetry can move forward.
Both schemes received approval from their respective councils – Bolton for Harworth’s Wingates and Wigan for Tritax’s Symmetry Park – in January 2020. The Government then called in the projects in May that year due to concerns over their potential impact on Green Belt land, and the developers have been awaiting the outcome of inquiries by the secretary of state as to whether they can go ahead.
Harworth’s Wingates project plans to create 1.1m sq ft of industrial and manufacturing space west of Wingates Industrial Estate in Bolton. The scheme calls for the demolition of existing buildings on the site, the upgrade of highway infrastructure to improve access, and the building of industrial storage and distribution facilities with offices, parking and ancillary food and drink spots. The scheme is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs.
The secretary of state granted approval, subject to conditions, to the scheme. Most of the conditions respond to environmental concerns, especially potential harm the development could cause to allocated Green Belt land. The secretary of state did note, however, that the economic benefit of the scheme outweighed the anticipated environmental harm.
Harworth plans to begin enabling works on the site in early 2022. Commercial development is expected to begin later that same year.
“Securing planning for our Wingates development marks a significant milestone for us and will have a substantial positive effect on the local economy in terms of construction, permanent jobs and investment,” said Lynda Shillaw, chief executive of Harworth. “It will allow Bolton businesses to expand, while at the same time improving highways infrastructure and protecting local biodiversity and green spaces.”
Tritax’s Symmetry Park aims to create 1.4m sq ft of logistics floor space in Wigan. Located on a former coal mine, the 134-acre site sits by Junction 25 of the M6 motorway. There are eight giant sheds in the scheme. Construction on the first two was slated to start at the end of last year. That, of course, has been delayed. The scheme is slated to create 1,650 jobs.
“We are pleased the secretary of state has recognised the significant economic benefits derived from a scheme the scale of Symmetry Park Wigan, both during the construction phase and once operational,” said Matt Claxton, planning director at Tritax Symmetry.
“The decision to call in the scheme has inevitably caused delays and, given the strength of occupational demand, we will therefore press on immediately with the infrastructure works on site to enable us to commence speculative construction of phase one, comprising 300,000 sq ft, and deliver pre-lets.”
The development team for Symmetry Park Wigan includes AEW Architects, planning consultant CBRE, highways advisor Croft, air quality consultant Redmore, ecology and arboriculture consultant TEP, landscape masterplanner Enzygo, noise and vibration consultancy REC, and archaeologist RSK.
Wingates and Symmetry Park Wigan were two of four industrial schemes to be called in by the Government for inquiry last May. Liberty Properties Developments and Eddie Stobart’s planned £75m national distribution centre in Warrington was refused in November. Langtree’s 1m sq ft Parkside Colliery project in St Helens has yet to be given a verdict.
In addition, Peel L&P and PLP submitted their 1.8m sq ft Haydock Point project to the Secretary of State around the same time as Wingates and Symmetry Park. The secretary of state has yet to deliver a decision on that scheme, although Peel says it is hopeful that it will hear back this summer.