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Friday, 11 July 2014

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Stobart Group gets go-ahead for new Carlisle depot

Stobart Group is almost certain to build a massive new depot in Carlisle – even if its overhaul of the city’s airport is grounded.

Andrew Tinkler photo
Andrew Tinkler

The transport giant has landed planning permission for a fallback option of a freight distribution centre at Kingmoor Park.

Councillors have granted outline permission for a complex that could employ up to 180 full-time staff on a plot of land just off the western bypass.

The go-ahead for the project may go some way to easing concerns about Stobart’s commitment to Carlisle should the £25 million airport scheme be kicked out by the courts.

Redeveloping the Crosby-on-Eden airfield remains the firm’s preferred option, but chief executive Andrew Tinkler has said it must have a plan B in case the project – which includes a 394,000sq ft freight distribution centre – is thrown out.

Stobart Group said in a statement today: “We welcome the approval of planning. This gives us another option with regard to future operations in Cumbria.”

Planning permission has already been granted for the airport project.

But Irthington farmer Gordon Brown has applied for a judicial review of the planning decision, which is due to be heard by a High Court judge in February.

Mr Brown persuaded the Court of Appeal to quash an earlier consent, granted in 2009, after he brought judicial review proceedings.

If he wins a second time, Stobart Group is ready to walk away from the airport and go to Kingmoor, on the northern edge of Carlisle.

Planning permission was granted by the city council’s development control panel on Friday, with councillors supporting it unanimously.

Castle ward councillor Willie Whalen was one of those who spoke at the meeting, praising investment at Kingmoor Park.

He said: “This is a good example of industrial development and of what Carlisle has to offer businesses.”

Although Stobart is not named as the end user in the planning documents, our sister newspaper The Cumberland News last month revealed it was the firm involved.

Kingmoor Park Properties, owners of the Kingmoor Park industrial estate, took the plans to the authority. They incorporate 310,000sq ft of warehousing plus 9,200sq ft of office accommodation. There would be 10 HGV docks and parking for 81 lorries.

A car park and service yard would be accessed by a new road linked directly from a roundabout onto the bypass.

In their recommendation to approve the development, planning officers told councillors the scale and design of the proposals would be acceptable and would not have an adverse impact on those in nearby buildings.

Speaking last month, Mr Tinkler said: “Kingmoor Park is a fallback position. We have to have more than one option going.

“The people who will lose out if it goes ahead are the people of Carlisle because they won’t get the airport.”

The scheme would form part of the Kingmoor Park’s £60m ‘hub’ project, which already has outline planning consent and has the potential to create 500 jobs.

It is being marketed as Monarch@Kingmoor.

That programme is being marketed at a select sector of the property market, targeting firms capable of dealing with a development of up to 1m sq ft. Stobart’s current Carlisle depot is on Kingstown Industrial Estate. The firm also has offices at nearby Parkhouse.

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