A major retailer says that a £19 million investment that would create 130 jobs in York is now in doubt.
Shoe retailer Pavers has two planning applications waiting for approval.
It wants to double the size of its Northminster Business Park warehouse. But City of York Council officers have recommended that this is refused.
And Pavers says that places in doubt its plans for a sustainable new office extension– and with it the creation of 130 new jobs.
Under York’s yet-to-be-ratified Local Plan, the warehouse expansion would take up space in the green belt.
Development is allowed on the green belt under ‘very special circumstances’. Pavers argues that the economic benefits and job creation of their plan, combined with careful landscape screening, are those circumstances.
But in a report to the York planning committee, officers say that these benefits “do not, either individually or cumulatively, clearly outweigh the totality of the harms” caused by the extension.
Pavers needs to expand its warehouse due to the massive boom in its online business.
It says the extension “needs to be physically linked to the existing facility to connect with Pavers’ existing state-of-the-art automation system”.
If the plan is rejected, Pavers would look to open a secondary warehouse in the south-west. But a company spokesperson said the company would then be “unlikely to go ahead with the office application in the current form, leading to a vast reduction in the envisaged new jobs available”.
Pavers estimates the expanded operation would bring in £190 million to the York economy in the next few years.
The retailer has experienced a huge surge in sales acquiring the Jones the Bootmaker brand in 2019.
It now has more than 175 stores in the UK and is opening new international markets. Its UK reach is increasing via deals with the likes of Marks & Spencer and Next.
Stuart Paver from Pavers said: “We would ask councillors to decide whether they want to support one of York’s most successful and longest-standing businesses and approve both planning applications.
“Both planning applications are intrinsically linked in terms of future investment and one cannot happen without the other.
“York has been our proud base for over 50 years, and we would like this to continue for many more generations. We believe the local council should strongly support local businesses rather than forcing them to leave the city.
“We do not feel sufficient weight has been given to the economic benefits, job creation and the unique nature of the expansion in the officers’ report.
“We are landlocked without these applications being approved as there is nowhere else for us to expand on this site, and we need to keep our operation in one footprint in order to compete in the market.
“If we are not successful with both planning applications, we will have to carefully look at our future options for the business.”
The ongoing growth of the company will see Pavers increase staff numbers at its HQ from 300 to 430 employees, as well as generating local supply-chain and construction jobs should both applications be approved.
Its two planning applications will be discussed by the planning committee on 3 November.