England

The Range moves '1,000-job' target from Wiltshire to Bristol

The Range
Image caption Thousands signed petitions for and against The Range's previous plan for a Wiltshire centre

Retailer The Range has agreed a deal for a 1,000-job distribution centre near Bristol, ending its former plan to open the facility in Wiltshire.

The firm has announced it will build a planning distribution centre the size "of 15 Wembley stadiums" at Central Park, Avonmouth.

It faced opposition last year while seeking planning permission for a regional centre near Chippenham.

Owner Chris Dawson said Bristol "clearly wanted the investment".

A proposal for a 72,000 sq m regional centre at Allington, near Chippenham, divided opinion with more than 1,700 petitioning against the plans and more than 1,200 people calling for the development to go ahead.

Campaigners said it would disturb an archaeological site, cause traffic jams and be inappropriate for the location.

Image copyright The Range
Image caption Chris Dawson, a former Plymouth market trader, has made £1bn through his The Range stores

Now The Range will build a unit of more than 1.2 million sq ft (111,483 sq m) on a 55-acre (22 hectare) site as its new south of England base.

It already has planning permission and building work is expected to be completed by 2017, with 1,050 jobs created by the business.

The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership said it was "pleased to welcome The Range to our Avonmouth/Severnside Enterprise Area and the new job opportunities they are bringing for local people".

Mr Dawson, who has become a billionaire though the success of his stores, explained the move to Bristol over Wiltshire as "a better deal".

He added: "We had less opposition and clearly they wanted the investment."

A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: "It is disappointing that The Range has decided not to invest in this site [in Allington], but it must be remembered that Wiltshire has a buoyant economy with very low unemployment.

"We will continue to work with our partners to help attract businesses into this county."

The Range has 115 stores across the country, with a further 35 planned to open this year.

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