Regeneration plans for industrial estate in Longwell Green

Plans have been unveiled for the regeneration of a run-down industrial estate in Longwell Green which could include a hotel.

The redevelopment of the land to the west of Marsham Way, including the former Saville’s Freights depot, is being planned by CBRE Global Investors on behalf of landowner the West Midlands Pension Fund.

Some units are already vacant on what is known as the Kingswood Industrial Estate, including those formerly occupied by Bitton Precision Engineering Ltd and Reynolds Catering Supplied Ltd. Others are still operating including ice rink firm Icescape, Tile Flair and Avondale Ceramic Tiles. Successful club Majestic Gymnastics is also based in a unit at the old Saville’s site and is now facing an uncertain future as you can read about here.

The proposed redevelopment does not include the retail park at the entrance of the Aldermoor Way spur road where there is a Costa, Subway, Carpetright and DFS.

Originally the redevelopment plans were for a shops-based scheme but that has changed because of the collapse of the out-of-centre retail market, which is not expected to recover due to the continued rise in online sales and lack of demand for bricks and mortar shopping space,

The planning application submitted to South Gloucestershire Council includes two options. Option A involves a primarily employment-led redevelopment falling within Class E (commercial, business and service), B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) which encompasses trade units with ancillary showroom space.

There would also be a zone restricted to Class E(b) which is the sale of food and drink with consumption mostly on the premises, and takeaway uses.

Option B includes some retail space along with a hotel and a range of Class, B2 and B8 floorspace.

Under both options there is the potential to accommodate, “subject to commercially sustainable demand and viability”, Class E(d) space which is for gym, indoor sport, and recreation.

Between 252 and 339 car parking spaces would be provided across the development, depending on which option is agreed.

The planning reference is P20/22431/0. The outline planning application seeks to establish if the council agrees that the scale and nature of the proposal is acceptable. More detailed plans would then follow.

Because of the size and scale of the proposed development Oldland Parish Council says it wants to ensure that the project is well-publicised and the views of the local community are heard. Consequently there will be an extraordinary meeting by Zoom of its Planning, Highways & Environment Committee at 7.30pm on Tuesday 9th March. Details on how to take part will be available on the council’s website.

This article was updated on 22nd February. In the papers submitted as part of the planning application, Flip Out is listed as among the units currently vacant at the business park. This status has been challenged and we are investigating further.

How retail has taken a nosedive

A report from a specialist out-of-town retail and leisure advisory firm prepared for applicant CBRE Global Investors highlights how retail is struggling.

It says: “It is fair to say that the market was seeing a structural correction pre-COVID-19. Occupiers were already struggling with their margins given the significant occupational costs brought about by business rates and increased staffing costs (the living wage, etc) allied to the ever-increasing competition from online operators such as Amazon.”

The report goes on: “There simply is no demand for new retailers to occupy additional space at Longwell Green at anything approaching the rents that have been achieved on the adjoining Retail Park and would be required to make the scheme commercially viable

“Whilst Longwell Green remains a prime retail location, the tenants that were previously interested such as Sofology, GO Outdoors & Furniture Village, would no longer be willing to commit to a development site or the rents necessary to make such a development viable.”

The nearby Gallagher Retail Park recently lost the Outfit fashion store, left, and Caffè Nero. The unit previously occupied by Carphone Warehouse has been vacant for some time.

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