A massive £120m vote of confidence in the future of Ellesmere Port gained a unanimous green light from borough planners.
German-owned corrugated board producer Prowell on the Pioneer Business Park is poised to move to a two-phase hi-tech mega plant on former Cabot Carbon land at Lees Lane to be developed by Peel Investments.
This will be the most efficient and powerful unit of its type in the world, it is claimed.
Parent company Progroup, based in the country’s Rhineland, say they will be committing 75m Euros to the project with councillors hearing the first phase of the new build could bring forward investment ‘in the order’ of £120m.
There will be new job opportunities in construction and operations and within the local supply chain including local services, it is suggested.
“This represents a major economic benefit,” a report states.
Progroup believes the new location will become the ‘absolute benchmark of the entire industry’.
The company is launching ‘a considerable expansion project’ to increase capacity by building new plants in Italy and the UK according to trade journals.
Lees Lane will see ‘the most powerful corrugated board plant in the entire industry’ with Progroup saying it is Europe‘s fastest growing corrugated board manufacturer.
Planners describe the proposal as ‘a significant new investment on a key strategic site within Ellesmere Port’.
They point out employment development in the area is supported by the council’s regeneration team and by the Ellesmere Port Development Board.
The application sought full planning permission for 30,470 sq m of manufacturing space (328,000 sq ft) in the first phase of the project with outline plans to add a second building of up to 43,500 sq m (468,000 sq ft) in the future.
The site is in a mainly industrial area, the report points out, close to the Shropshire Union Canal with the M53 further away.
Full details have been submitted for phase one of the new build with phase two in outline.
The initial manufacturing space will be mainly 15m high with a 41.5m high storage area while phase 2 would see building heights between 15m and 18m. A 4,600 sq m storage area would have a maximum height of up to 43m.
There would be a bridge link to the phase 1 building.
Concerns were put forward as to the traffic implications on adjoining roads but councillors heard it is not considered HGV movements will have a significant impact on South Road/New Bridge Road or on junction 10 of the M53.
No highway objections were raised.
Approval was recommended subject to conditions and the plans were agreed unanimously by the committee.
Commenting on the permission, a delighted Chris Farrow, Ellesmere Port Development Board chairman, told the Pioneer: “The implementation of this planning consents will be a major step forward in Ellesmere Port’s regeneration.
“The Ellesmere Port Development Board wholeheartedly welcome this massive investment in the Port’s future.”
The firm first moved to Ellesmere Port in 2008 on the basis of the town offering the best infrastructure and proximity to port facilities and motorway links being close to the M56 and the M53 having considered other sites in Cheshire and elsewhere.