Part of a major south Essex shopping centre is set to be demolished under plans to create 700 jobs at a new £200million warehouse and distribution centre.
Under the major plans, a large part of Lakeside Shopping Centre, in Thurrock, would be razed to the ground and replaced with a 15-acre warehouse.
Several shops, including Burger King, TK Maxx, M&S, Asda Home, Boots, Go Outdoors and Poundland, will be demolished but it is expected they will be given empty shops in others parts of the shopping centre.
Thurrock councillors have given plans the green light.
Jayme McArthur, planning director for landowner, British Land, attended a planning committee meeting and outlined how retail has changed since the rise in online shopping.
She said: “When considering the land use it’s important to note the evidenced oversupplied retail in the area which is causing vacancies and a need to consolidate existing retail into the core of the Lakeside basin, in turn creating wider vitality and vibrancy of the centre.
“We would not be proposing this investment in logistics if we believed the site would continue to thrive in its current form. The existing retail park is peripheral and in decline and will be ready for development in 2025.
“We are looking to invest £200million and with that comes benefit for Thurrock.”
Ms McArthur said the council would benefit from £3million in business rates a year and 700 jobs would be created once the site was operational – a 150 per cent increase in jobs on the existing retail park .
Lee Watson, Labour councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford raised concerns about pressures on the nearby Junction 31 of the M25.
Cllr Watson said: “If this goes through we’re going to have HGVs going on junction 31. The Mardyke development that hasn’t come forward yet is a massive logistics park with, if it went through, loads of HGVs on Junction 31. There is also coming up the Purfleet employment hub that is actually a logistics park sitting on Junction 31. On the opposite side of the Mardyke there is a logistics park that’s half built that’s on Junction 31.
“How is Junction 31 going to cope? Aveley can’t cope with that sort of traffic nor can Purfleet-on-Thames, nor can west Thurrock. Everything is going on Junction 31 and that’s not getting any bigger. Twice this week it’s been gridlocked before this.”
CGI of Lakeside Distribution Centre