Government approves Wigan logistics park capable of supporting 1,650 jobs

Plans for Symmetry Park
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A huge £73m Wigan employment park capable of supporting 1,650 jobs has been approved by the Government following a public inquiry.

Tritax Symmetry was granted planning permission for its Symmetry Park Wigan scheme on January 14, 2020.

It proposed a strategic logistics scheme on junction 25 of the M6 which could create 1,650 jobs when operational, and 1,200 construction jobs.

The 134-acre site could provide 1.44m sq ft of logistics employment space. It represents a construction investment of £73m from Tritax Symmetry and will provide £3m in business rates payments per year to Wigan Council once operational.

However, it was called in by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on May 21, 2020, and was the subject of a planning inquiry which took place on December 1-4, 2020.

Today, the Government confirmed that the inspectors have recommended approval for the scheme, which can now proceed.

In papers issued by the Department, they said the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, agrees with the Inspectors’ finding that “due to the attraction of the M6 corridor for logistics operators, employment land supply in the area has been unable to keep pace with demand and is now critically low”.

He also notes that there is a “broad consensus that there are no suitable alternative sites in the borough that could accommodate the proposed development”.

And he agreed that there is a “demonstrable policy and market need for logistics floorspace on a regional, subregional and local level, and that with regards to Wigan, that need is particularly stark and cannot be met through existing or other non-Green Belt sites”.

He also agreed that “the proposal would deliver a substantial range of tangible economic benefits including well paid jobs for local people”, and “that these socio-economic benefits would boost the local economy and would help to address economic inequalities in nearby communities”.

He agrees that these benefits “carry substantial weight”.

The proposals for Tritax Symmetry Park Wigan include high quality logistics buildings alongside extensive landscaping and planting.

There will be a substantial green buffer between the development and the nearest housing in Winstanley, with a new access from the site to the A49 roundabout.

Located on one of the UK’s most important routes for road freight, Symmetry Park Wigan is to be built on a site formerly used as an open cast coal mine which was an active colliery until the early 1980s.

Greater Manchester’s Industrial Strategy identifies the Wigan-Bolton Growth Corridor as an important cluster location for the growth of the logistics sector, while The Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review identified the logistics sector as a key “enabling capability” for the region, meaning it plays a crucial role in economic development.

Matt Claxton, planning director at Tritax Symmetry, said: “We are pleased that the Secretary of State has recognised the significant economic benefits that are derived from a scheme the scale of Symmetry Park Wigan, both during the construction phase and once operational.

“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.”

Chris Argent, director, planning and development at CBRE Manchester, said: “CBRE are delighted with the fantastic news for Tritax.

“Wigan now has a significant opportunity to capture occupier requirements and drive local economic growth. We look forward to working with Tritax to deliver the scheme as soon as practically possible.”

Leader of Wigan Council, Cllr David Molyneux, welcomed the decision, saying: “The development at J25 is a major opportunity for our borough in terms of job creation and economic development, which is key priority for the council, especially as we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Tritax Symmetry’s application is supported by AEW Architects, planning consultant CBRE, highways advice from Crofts, air quality consultant Redmore, ecology and arboriculture consultant TEP, noise and vibration consultant REC, landscape masterplanner Enzygo, and archaeology by RSK.