DHL shrugs off threat from Heathrow Hub to move forward with new Poyle headquarters that will create over 700 new jobs
The regeneration of the run down Poyle Trading Estate has taken a gigantic step forward. Plans by DHL for a major new logistics hub, in spite of the threat from Third Runway proposals, are set to move forward following last week’s meeting of the Planning Committee.
Having secured a large chunk of the Poyle trading estate, property agents acting for DHL look set to embark on an exciting transformation which could deliver a local jobs bonanza. The planning application follows the announcement of a £32 million investment in Colnbrook last July.
The application to redevelop the Poyle 14 Business Park which currently comprises 17 partly unoccupied units – a mixture of office, light industrial and storage and distribution space – will create a mammoth 21,373 SQM new facility for DHL.
The site is to be developed into a 5-storey bespoke warehouse and distribution hub, together with the location for the firm’s UK headquarters. The new hub will be used in addition to existing DHL facilities located at Heathrow and Colnbrook Lakeside, while the existing facility at Orbital Park in Hounslow will close.
The new parcel delivery hub will operate 24 x 7 and cover the south of the UK. It will support 60 HGV loading bays while there will be a total of 585 car parking spaces on the site.
The new facility will see employment generated from the site leap from 140 to 827 with a further 40 part-time jobs at Christmas being created. While existing employees will be entitled to move when the company relocates from Hounslow, DHL says it will take steps to ensure local residents of Slough will be offered any new employment opportunities. As part of an S106 agreement it will provide funds to create a local recruitment partnership through Slough Aspire.
DHL has predicted the new site will create 1,907 vehicle movements a day when it reaches full capacity, but HGVs will be directed to the M25. Access will be improved with a dedicated right-turn slip road from Horton Road. All vehicles accessing the site will enter via Calder Way with the entry gate positioned back from Horton Road to provide room for a number of HGVs to queue without causing traffic to back up. The current Newlands Drive access will be stopped up and the company will also fund a scheme to narrow Poyle Road and Bath Road to prevent its use by freight traffic, enforced by new CCTV.
A landscaping plan has been submitted which the company says will improve the frontage along a large stretch of Horton Road. An air quality assessment submitted with the application concluded that there are no air quality constraints to the proposed development. However, the Council is asking for assurances for the protection of Staines Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), just 200 metres away.
The Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the proposed regeneration, suggesting that it will help to offset the recent loss of major international employers, such as Honda, Citroen and Unilever, where the outcome of “decisions probably made in Tokyo, Paris and Rotterdam” had been felt locally:
Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce very much hopes that Slough Borough Council recognises the tremendous economic impact this multi-million pound headquarter and logistics hub will have on the town.
Highways expressed concern that calculation of traffic into and out of the site had not been robust enough and could impact traffic flows at Junction 14. The concern was reinforced from the single objector to the scheme, a neighbouring business, which expressed the concern that severe traffic issues seen on a daily basis on Horton Road leading to the M25 roundabout would be exacerbated.
Otherwise, the resistance to earlier regeneration bids to transform empty offices to warehouses appear to have been deflected with major S106 contributions.
In addition to funding the partnership with Slough Aspire and £75,000 to fund the road narrowing, the company will contribute £50,000 towards a new cycle route between the M25 J14 underpass and Colnbrook High Street and £35,000 for two new bus stops with real time passenger information screens.
DHL finds itself in the curious situation whereby both its Colnbrook Lakeside and Poyle headquarters will be at risk from both the Colnbrook and Poyle Third Runway options. It says:
We are also aware of the proposed Heathrow Hub proposals, which if they were to go ahead then would seek to build a runway over the site. However all these issues were taken into account by DHL at Board Level when agreeing to use this site for the relocation.
Nevertheless the company’s decision to invest heavily in such close proximity to the airport suggests it has a high degree of confidence that expansion locally will proceed:
“DHL are fully committed to this site as it is ideally located to the airport to feed into their Heathrow facility as well as being in very close proximity to the M25.”
The current intention if that the current buildings on the site will be demolished in June and the new warehouse will be completed in April 2016.