IKEA will finally be coming to Sussex as part of a £170 million development led by Brighton and Hove Albion, The Argus can reveal.
The Swedish furniture giant’s first Sussex store will be built alongside 600 new homes and a primary school as part of the major redevelopment of a former landfill site off the A27.
The development is set to create more than 1,000 jobs in total, contribute £11 million to the local economy and bring £40 million of transport improvements including the removal of the Sussex Pad traffic lights.
The plans at New Monks Farm in Lancing represent the biggest project financially in Albion’s history – larger even than its award-winning stadium.
It is hoped that Ikea could be opened by summer 2019 with the mix of houses and flats delivered over an eight year period.
A £20 million investment in new warehouses at Shoreham Airport will “secure the long-term future of the airport”.
A 28 hectare country park is planned to maintain a green gap between Lancing and Shoreham while Albion will form a management company to deal with flood risk issues on the site.
Thirty per cent of the homes will be affordable, the club is in detailed discussions with Cala Homes to deliver the housing on site.
Adur District Council will benefit from £2.75 million in council tax and business rates from the completed scheme.
Martin Perry, director of Albion subsidiary New Monks Farm Development Ltd, said the scheme would bring huge benefits to the local economy while helping to protect the club’s neighbouring £30 million training ground and pay off some of the £200 million chairman Tony Bloom had invested into the club.
He added: “In addition to the significant employment generated through this development by IKEA, 600 homes for local families will be created, supported by a new primary school, a country park and replacing the Sussex Pad traffic lights with a major new roundabout on the A27 will improve the situation for commuters and open up new job opportunities on Shoreham Airport.”
The 35,000 sqm IKEA store will include a restaurant, crèche and children’s play area creating 430 full and part-time jobs in customer relations, sales, interior design and food services.
IKEA real estate manager Tim Farlam said: “This site presents a great opportunity, given its scale, accessibility and location.
“A new store here would provide people from the greater Brighton area with relevant home furnishing solutions and will create local jobs.”
Councillor Neil Parkin, Adur District Council leader, said he was pleased to see strong investment interest being shown in Lancing.
He added: “We are clear that we want to attract world class developments which create homes and jobs for local people.
“The proposal must fully address concerns the local community has around flooding and sustainable development at this key site through a clear and convincing business case.”
Brighton and Hove City Council leader, councillor Warren Morgan, welcomed the news.
He said: “Brighton and Hove City Council helped IKEA review sites within the city with a view to finding a home for a new store but we were unable to find anywhere that was suitable.
“We are delighted that IKEA is locating within the greater Brighton area, particularly given their commitment as a real living wage employer.
“The jobs and training opportunities that the new store will bring is great news for everyone living in the greater Brighton region.”
THE SEAGULLS AND THE SWEDES COULD BE A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Sussex has been trying to wow Swedish trendsetters IKEA for years.
Sites in Crawley and Ferring were mooted but nothing ever materialised.
The statement IKEA issued last week to local media was the same issued in 2013; it had been considering Sussex for a long time but never found the right location. That is until Albion entered the fray and snapped them up.
Executive director Martin Perry said: “IKEA have been looking around, they did a review of sites in Brighton and we were aware of this interest.
“We approached them, they came and looked at the site, liked it and it went from there.”
Mr Perry said IKEA was an ideal partner because they shared a similar ethos.
He said: “IKEA share our values, they are exemplar employers, they are a real living wage employer.
“IKEA have very strong sustainability credentials, wherever possible they like brownfield sites and this site ticked that box because it was used for landfill.”
There was also a financial necessity for bringing in IKEA – few retailers operate on a similar scale.
Mr Perry said: “The costs of the infrastructure are massive. This development secures the airport’s long-term future but you have to fund it so you need a substantial development.
“That’s why IKEA is the perfect solution. What they provide goes towards the more than £40 million infrastructure costs.”
The project has been in the club’s thinking since gaining permission for its £30 million training ground in 2012.
Last year the club bought up the 150-acre site which has planning for a golf course.
Mr Perry said: “When we bought the training ground site we were very conscious that it was in the local plan and was going to be developed.
“Having invested more than £30 million, it was important we protected our investment.
“The key issue was making sure the flood risk was dealt with on an ongoing basis so the best course of action was to develop it ourselves.”
The flood risk of concreting over absorbent fields is one of the biggest concerns residents have. Adur District Council describes the site as having “some flood risk issues”. The site is graded flood zone 3a, the second highest Environment Agency rating.
Mr Perry said: “We have prepared a flood risk assessment which shows not only will the development not increase the flooding risk, it will improve the situation for residents of Manor Close which, in severe weather, floods.
“We will form a management company to deal with ongoing maintenance and protect the whole area of the development, our training ground and Manor Close.”
To accommodate new residents and thousands of IKEA shoppers, a new road system is proposed to the west of the Sussex Pad.
Mr Perry said: “Highways England’s aspiration is to create one junction opening up the whole development, they don’t want a junction here, a junction there, a junction there.
“The Sussex Pad is not in a brilliant location so we are proposing to move it down into a significant junction, a signalised roundabout the size of a football pitch.
“It will make it much safer and create a linkage across the road for cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians to access the South Downs.”
For the club, the new development marks the latest in a decade of major investments beginning with the rumbling of diggers in 2008 at Falmer.
Mr Perry said: “In terms of development cost it’s bigger than the stadium, it’s about the same number of jobs.
“If you add together all our economic activities, we have created more than 2,000 jobs and we will be contributing around £50 million to the local economy.”
All that development has been bankrolled by the deep pockets of Albion chairman Tony Bloom.
It is hoped New Monks Farm could begin to repay that generosity.
Mr Perry said: “Clearly there is a profit. It’s not spectacular, but we will make a developer’s profit.
“If somebody says to me we’re just doing it to make money, the fact is Tony Bloom has put more than £200 million into this football club so if we can repay some of that, or reduce that burden, as well as all these other benefits, then I don’t feel guilty about that.
“The creation of 2,000 jobs from the developments he has undertaken is absolutely huge.”
THE New Monks Farm development in numbers:
- £170 million total investment creating more than 1,000 jobs
- 35,000 square metre IKEA store creating 875 jobs
- 600 new houses and flats – 30 per cent of them affordable
- £40 million road improvements including new roundabout
- Contribution to local economy £11 million
- Contribution to council £2.75 million
- 28-hectare park, new primary school and community centre
- Relocated traveller site from A27 layby – expanded to 16 pitches
- Albion’s total contribution to the economy – £50 million and 2,000 jobs.
Dates for the diary:
- Public exhibition Friday 27th Jan. from 2pm to 8pm at the Shoreham Centre in Pond Road.
- Public exhibition, Saturday 28th Jan. from 10am to 2pm at the Shoreham Centre.
- Public exhibition, Wednesday 1st Feb. from 4pm to 8pm at Lancing Parish Hall.
- Planning application submitted by end of February/ beginning of March.
- Adur planning committee expected to make decision around June.
- Work on the first phase of housing could begin by the end of the year.
- Work on new A27 junction beginning summer 2018.
- New junction and IKEA to open by summer 2019.
- Final section of housing to be completed by 2025.