Setting the record straight
Over the past few months, a number of concerns have been raised against The Range’s proposed regional distribution centre and The Range store adjacent to the A350 in Chippenham. Many of the claims made against the scheme are factually incorrect. This page sets the record straight.
The size of the development
The Range site at Chippenham has been compared in size terms to Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. This is misleading. The Chippenham development is made up of two principle elements: a regional distribution centre building and The Range retail store as well as car parking, landscaping and a sustainable drainage pond. The proposed distribution centre and The Range retail store buildings together cover 76,000 sq m on a 65 acre site. Terminal 5 complex is made up of several buildings, a control tower and a railway station on a 640 acre site. The main reception building alone covers a ground area of 70,000 sq m; contains four stories and is more than twice the height of the proposed distribution centre building. The two developments are incomparable in size and scale.
Why we are locating adjacent to the A350 and not at Junction 17 of the M4
We have chosen a site adjacent to Chippenham for a number of reasons. The A350 provides excellent access to the M4; the site will provide a source of employment adjacent to Chippenham; it is close to the town to ensure the economic benefits of the scheme are captured locally; and it is available, viable and deliverable for The Range.
Land at Junction 17 was considered at the beginning of the site selection process but was dismissed on commercial and planning grounds. It is not an option and has been ruled out by The Range. We cannot find any other suitable sites for the proposed development in Wiltshire.
The development will not set a precedent for development adjacent to the A350
If approved, our proposed development will not constitute a ‘free for all’ for new development adjacent to the A350. Each planning application is considered on its merits. In our case, Wiltshire Council’s Core Policy 34 allows for development to the west of the A350 in exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are unlikely to be repeated making development around our scheme highly unlikely. The statement that the scheme will set a precedent for further development adjacent to the A350 is incorrect.
The development will not have a detrimental effect on existing businesses in Chippenham town centre
The Range undertook a Retail Impact Assessment on Chippenham town centre as part of the planning application. The detailed analysis shows that the store will not have a detrimental effect on the town centre. Chippenham is a successful town centre and The Range store will not lessen its attractiveness as a place to shop.
On the contrary, we believe the £31 million/yr boost to the Wiltshire economy from the development will make Chippenham a more prosperous place, which will benefit local retail and leisure businesses in the town centre.
There is sufficient capacity on the roads to accommodate the development
We have analysed traffic levels along the A350 as part of our planning application. Over the course of an average working day (between 7am and 7pm) there are more than 15,000 vehicle movements along the A350. Based on this survey, and the likely traffic flows from the development, our specialist highways consultant has advised that there is sufficient capacity on the network to accommodate the increased traffic levels arising from the development.
None of the proposed lorry movements will access central Chippenham – 95% will travel northwards towards Junction 17 of the M4 and the remaining 5% will travel south along the A350 – and we will stagger shift patterns in the distribution centre to avoid local rush hours. We have also made a commitment to provide a shuttle bus as part of our planning application.
It is also important to note that proposed improvement works to dual the A350 will increase traffic capacity even further.
We have minimised the impact of the development on the local area
We have made a number of changes to our initial designs to reduce the impact of the development on the local area as much as possible. A green colour scheme for the distribution centre building, acoustic buffer, an enlarged sustainable drainage pond and enhanced landscaping have all been added to the plans to minimise its impact.
What about the increased risk of flooding to the local area?
There is no increased risk of flooding. The Environment Agency is very sensitive to such issues and has not objected to our proposal after taking into consideration our proposed mitigation measures.
The number of people employed at the scheme
The proposed retail distribution centre will employ approximately 1,000 people. At peak trading periods (approximately 7 months of the year) the distribution centre is expected to employ approximately 900 people. Outside of these peaks we expect the centre will employ in the order of 750-800 people. Approximately 100 new jobs will also be created at the new The Range store.
The quality of the jobs on offer
Some people have questioned the quality of the jobs on offer. The scheme will create hundreds of long-term jobs in a variety of positions. The positions will include roles such as administration, merchandising, stock control, HR, as well as ancillary services such as security and catering. The plans for the distribution centre building contain over 2,800 sq. m of office space for these new roles. The development will also support hundreds of jobs in local suppliers when open and there will be additional jobs generated during the construction phase. We are proposing a game changing development for Chippenham that will create and secure hundreds of new jobs for the long-term.