The entrepreneur behind plans for a £10m retail and trade park in County Durham that will create around 300 jobs has unveiled more details surrounding the ambitious development.
Andrew Ward last year kickstarted the scheme with the seven-figure purchase of the former Kerry Foods factory on a 5.6-acre site near Durham Retail Park, a deal overseen by chartered surveyor Bradley Hall.
Now Mr Ward, who is managing director of customised clothing specialist Workwear Express, has revealed new details surrounding the scheme, which will include 13 trade counter units ranging from 278sqm to 990sqm and providing 7,770sqm of space in total.
Initial interest from tenants has been very strong and Kwik-Fit is in advanced negotiations to take one of the units, while McDonald’s will also have a drive-through eaterie on Dragon Lane, which will add an estimated £1.8m to the local economy and create around 80 new jobs.
There is also scope to include a motor showroom, a child-friendly restaurant, diner or pub and the potential for Workwear Express to expand from its existing base on the Belmont Industrial Estate in County Durham.
A wide range of operators including cinemas, leisure operators, gyms and vets have all expressed a desire to be based there, but Mr Ward’s scheme appears to provide the right mix of space which county planners seem happy with.
It is hoped the Rennys Lane development will breathe new life into an area that was devastated by the closure of the Kerry Foods factory in 2012, a move which resulted in some 350 job losses.
Mr Ward is now seeking outline planning permission for the scheme from Durham County Council and a decision is expected within weeks.
The one-time market trader and keen property developer said: “We hope that the council will recognise the value of this scheme, which will create much-needed jobs at a time when unemployment in the region is the highest in the country.
“If these plans get the go-ahead – and initial discussions have been encouraging – we hope to start construction almost immediately and complete phase one of the scheme by the end of the summer 2015 with phase two to follow shortly thereafter.
“This scheme has the potential to be one of the most vibrant business hubs in the North of England. It will certainly be the catalyst for expansion at Workwear and our target is to double turnover to £20m by 2018.”
Bradley Hall is currently acting on behalf of Mr Ward in negotiations on deals to bring prospective tenants to the site.
Peter Bartley, director at Bradley Hall, added: “Andrew is one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in the country with the vision to make schemes like this a reality.
“I have been amazed by the level of interest from national companies that want to set up a base on site, even though the units haven’t yet been formally put on the market.”