Royal London looks to relocate


Royal London, the UK's largest mutual life, pensions and investment company and Wilmslow's largest employer has announced it is looking at alternative location options near Wilmslow.

In March 2015 Royal London announced plans to create an additional 450 new jobs at its campus on Alderley Road. The intention was to accommodate the new roles by building new, modern office accommodation on land owned by Royal London to the east of the existing campus which lies in the Cheshire Green Belt.

The business currently employs around 900 full time staff in the town and wants to increase numbers to around 1,350.

However, following a period of rapid growth, Royal London is now looking at location options for the business as they will unable to build additional offices at the current site unless Cheshire East Council removes planning restrictions on the land.

Head of Procurement and Facilities at Royal London, Neil Kilshaw said: "At our Wilmslow site we have recognised for some time that space is a real issue. With an ageing property we are restricted in both maintaining existing and creating new working environments, without undertaking a major refurbishment. We've already relocated our some of our people to Alderley House on the campus as we have run out of space in the main Royal London House office. Taking into consideration our planned growth over the next few years, it's clear we're going to need more space soon."

"One of the options open to Royal London would be to develop new purpose-built offices on the adjoining land that we own to the east of the current site. However delivery of this option will require Cheshire East Council to remove planning restrictions on the land as a matter of urgency.

"As uncertainty remains around the leading location option, Royal London is also looking at other development sites near to Wilmslow. We have appointed the property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton to assist us finding other potential sites."

In November 2015 Royal London were granted planning permission to build a permanent car park with 126 spaces on the site of a temporary car park to the north west of the site.

It was approved on the grounds that the economic benefits of the proposals, the lack of better alternatives and the history of numerous temporary permissions were considered to provide very special circumstances that justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

The Royal London site was identified in the Local Plan for mixed use development, delivering 75 dwellings, 17-24,000 sq m of employment space and a hotel.

What do you think about this latest development, should Cheshire East Council remove the planning restrictions on the land to enable Royal London to remain at the site and build additional offices? Share your views via the comment box below/

Royal London


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Barry Buxton
Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 1:50 pm
CEC should definitely remove planning restrictions - and ensure they have enough on-site parking space to accommodate their expansion plans. Responsible local businesses need to be encouraged!
Rick Andrews
Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 4:31 pm
I am sure that some people will feel that CEC is being pressurised by Royal London. It seems unlikely that an office for 1350 people is already built and available nearby but maybe enough empty office space within 1 mile that could take the extra staff - not sure why they all have to be in the same location. Also seems strange for RL to say that the building is old as a reason to move.
However, CEC should try to keep this major employer - but if CEC gives approval for the development to go ahead there needs to be enforceable conditions that further development is not permitted, otherwise the green belt will be further eroded in 5 years. On the positive side this is also an opportunity for CEC to receive more business rates to use in Wilmslow to fix the appalling roads in Wilmslow and maybe even start to maintain some footpaths.
Jon Williams
Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 5:00 pm
Handforth Dean would be a good place for them
Ryan Dance
Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 6:06 pm
prime site for additional development. Great to see a strong business thriving
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 21st January 2016 at 1:17 am
The cynic in me see's this as RL trying to put pressure on the new leader of the conservative group at CEC. She hasn't even been installed as the new leader of the council yet to replace Michael Jones and the pressure seems like it's being applied already.

The Macclesfield local plan adopted in 2004 defined this site as a "strategic" site in the green belt, and made allowances for it's development. But RL failed to take advantage of this. Now, they are asking for the whole of the existing site and even more green field land to be removed from the greenbelt in the name of growth.

Oh well. We'll just have to wait and see what the inspector of the local plan makes of it when the hearing finally gets going again in September.
Peter Davenport
Friday 22nd January 2016 at 8:44 pm
This seems like what you children do. Do what I want or I will go elsewhere.
In Wilmslow there are nearly 200,000 square feet of empty offices, Handforth, reputedly 400,000Sq Ft, one building alone is nearly 60,000sq ft. Never mind Poynton, Macclesfield and Manchester Airport, and Knutsford.
Even our dearly departed Leader admits even council officers are more mobile the need for office space is diminishing. Th threat is build my offices, or I will go, to hell with the houses, or let me build the offices and you can have the land.
It is about time the Council faced up to these people, as well as the builders
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 27th January 2016 at 2:43 pm
Anyone any idea just how many locals they actually employ? Can't be many if they need extra parking and a bus to and from the railway station. They always want more. Do they bring much to the town or do most of the employees arrive and leave without venturing into town? I presume the council loves collecting all those business rates!! Perfect site for all that housing we don't need.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 27th January 2016 at 3:58 pm
There have been vacant offices advertised on the Fulshaw Hall site as long as I can remember (17 years at least); this appears to be a crude attempt to blackmail CEC into agreeing to Royal London's demands.
Whilst the plan for housing, a hotel and mixed use buildings might well have been in the Local Plan, that plan continues to be failed by the Inspector. The proposal was comprehensively rejected by the residents in the Wilmslow Vision consultation.

Lisa, perhaps you could contact Royal London and ask them exactly how many people they employ on site currently and exactly how many of them have an SK9 Post Code?
Stuart Kinsey
Friday 5th February 2016 at 3:21 pm
I am surprised the comments on this are relatively mild! Pete Taylor & Peter Davenport both make very valid points. What many people fail to realise is that should the land at Royal London be removed from the Green Belt then its value will be so great that Royal London could say it is more profitable to sell the site & relocate than to stay! It is a great pity that so few members of Wilmslow Town Council & the Cheshire East strategic planning team cannot see this dangerous potential outcome.

Inclusion of the sites at Royal London has, from the outset of preparing the CEC Local Plan, been land owner lead. Planning Inspector, Stephen Pratt, will surely see the threat of relocation by Royal London as an attempt to thwart the democratic process. May Inspector Pratt have the Wisdom of Solomon; he will need it on this one!