Plans for a huge new warehouse and distribution unit in South Elmsall have been given the green light by Wakefield Council. The development for online retailer Next is expected to initially create 500 jobs in West Yorkshire, and up to 1,000 in the long-term.
The British fashion and homeware retailer Next submitted a full planning application to the local council, which was approved at the start of July 2022. The plans included a new 1.2 million square foot warehouse and distribution unit just south of Field Lane. This will be the retailer’s fourth warehouse on the South Elmsall site.
The unit, referred to as E4 in the plans, will include the following:
- An 863-space car park, including 86 EV charging bays and potential to add more in the future
- Motorcycle park, cycle park and HGV trailer park
- A decanting building
- Office and welfare accommodation
- A gatehouse
- Solar panelling
- Internal roads
- Landscaping works
- A bridge linking E4 to E3, a new 852,000 square foot facility to the north which was granted planning permission in 2020.
There were some initial objections to the scheme, which will be built on 32 hectares of greenbelt land. Some concerns related to local traffic management, along with the use of protected green land for a commercial development.
However, the council’s planning committee accepted that the development could go ahead on this land due to the employment opportunities it could create for local communities. As reported in the Wakefield Express, Councillor Steve Tulley said:
“I do have concerns about taking up greenbelt land. But I also have concerns about job prospects and employment going forward. Whether we like it or not, we lost major well-paid jobs in the coal mining industry.
“If we do not grab job opportunities and put them in our communities, they will take them elsewhere. We are seeking jobs for our kids and our grandkids going forward.”
Jobs and economy boost for West Yorkshire
The Next scheme will involve a capital investment of around £125 million and could potentially inject around £32 million per year in gross added value (GVA) to the local economy. It is also expected to create nearly 500 warehousing jobs, which could rise to 1,000 in the future. A report submitted to the planning committee stated:
“It is expected that the additional expansion at South Elmsall associated with the proposed development would result in approximately 405 (full time) new jobs.
“The jobs will provide a range of further opportunities and Next are keen to recruit staff who live locally wherever possible.
“Currently, approximately 80 per cent of the existing staff live in Wakefield and Doncaster postcode areas.”
Once up and running, the new facility could push the total number of warehousing and distribution jobs at the South Elmsall site to above 5,000.