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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Dixons plan furniture store expansion at Dunmail Park

AN ESTIMATED 35 jobs will be created if planning consent is granted for a £2.3 million new furniture shop on the edge of Workington.

J. Dixon and Son Limited, which owns the Dunmail Park shopping and cinema complex between Northside and Siddick, is negotiating with Allerdale Council planners to build a 49,000 sq ft store at the back of the complex.

The new sales floor would be about half the size of Dixon’s department store at Dunmail Park.

The development would be at the back of the current complex and at the same time there would be a re-design of the retail park’s car park.

A retailer is already lined up to move in, but company director Bill Dixon declined to say who it is.

He said: “They would not conflict or compete with the goods and with the furniture that we sell in the department store.”

“There is a strong demand for the sort of modern furnishing store we would be bringing.

“It’s the kind of store that many people from West Cumbria travel to Carlisle or to Newcastle to visit for a broad selection of household furniture - particularly flat-packed style.”

Dixons and their consult ants have been negotiating with the planning department for two months but no deadline has been set for an outcome to the talks, which have raised many issues.

The building has stood part- finished for 12 years. The foundations and steelwork went in during the days of the Workington/Maryport Enterprise Zone, set up by the Conservative government.

Planning consent exists for a warehouse but Dixons hopes to win a change of use to retail.

Mr Dixon added: “We are trying to persuade the planners that if we are to compete in this area with furniture stores on the outskirts of big cities, then we have to do something similar, otherwise the trade goes elsewhere.”

“My hope is that we can negotiate with the planners something that is legitimate and allowable in planning terms and from there I am hoping that the elected councillors will agree that this is something good for the area.”

To win a change of use, Dixons has to satisfy planners on four key areas - that there is not a similar site in Workington town centre or the edge of town that can be developed; that excessive traffic will not be gen erated; that the new development would not have an impact on the vitality or viability of Workington town centre and that there is a demand for the store from the public.

Dixons has employed a planning consultant and a traffic consultant to try and press their case.

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