Pavers wants to stay in York with an expanded distribution centre. Credit: Turner Creative for Pavers

Pavers tries again with York expansion

Narrowly denied over Green Belt concerns in 2022, the shoe retailer has tweaked plans to extend its footprint at Northminster business park.

Pavers, which now sells 5m pairs of shoes a year and has to use off-site warehousing, presented its plan for a £19m investment in York last year.

In this version, it tabled proposals for a 121,319 sq ft warehouse, providing the kind of modern space required at a time when online sales are booming.

However the firm, which employs 300 people locally, failed to convince the planning committee that the “very special circumstances” threshold required for Green Belt development had been met.

The shoe company’s professional team is led by planning consultancy O’Neill Associates, and also includes HTC Architects, Barnes Associates, The Landscape Partnership, Bryan G Hall, Dudleys Consulting Engineers and MAB Environment & Ecology. Sanderson Weatherall undertook the economic benefits assessment.

In the fresh plans now submitted, O’Neill’s planning statement said that while moving rather than expanding would offer “significant advantages” in scope for bigger buildings, a wider labour pool and better motorway connections, its “strong preference” is to stay put, adding not just the warehouse but a £9m office expansion, to be built should the logistics centre secure consent.

The scheme has come down in overall size to 118,521 sq ft. Alterations to the plans include a reduction in the building’s length, a reduction in the amount of associated hardstanding, a reduction in car parking (from around 110 spaces to 75), and enhanced structural landscape buffers and planting.

Addressing specific concern raised at committee, more emphasis is given to sustainable travel in the new iteration, while a more sensitive lighting scheme is now proposed that will be less impactful to local wildlife.

In addition to this, O’Neill points out that York’s Green Belt has yet to be formally adopted, with planning inspectors yet to confirm the boundaries. The planner says that the very special circumstances test is met on four grounds: a local company trying to expand, the impracticality of working within the constraints of a still-emerging Local Plan, the fact that landscape changes can be mitigated over time, and that there will be economic benefit.

Pavers estimates 130 new jobs will be created.

Northminster Business Park is located off North Field Lane, around 2.5 miles from York city centre, and houses around 45 businesses. It is situated close to the A59 and York’s outer ring road.

At present, Pavers works from Catherine House, which it built in 2006 as a 40,000 sq ft unit and has subsequently expanded to the west by 47,000 sq ft through a 2018 consent – around 12,000 sq ft is office space.

The plot immediately south of Pavers has been taken up by a 60,000 sq ft DPD depot. Pavers now wants to expand further westward, into parts of two fields, oner currently arable and one used

No committee date has yet been set, but the revised plans have now been validated on York City Council’s planning portal, with the reference 23/00823/FULM.

The firm also wants to build a new office, should the logistics centre win consent. Credit: Pavers

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