Heron Bros to develop major new food distribution hub at Nutts Corner

The site of the proposed new storage and distribution facility at Nutts Corner.

A MAJOR new multimillion pound food distribution centre is to be developed at Nutts Corner.

South Derry construction group Heron Bros has lodged plans for the new facility next to Lidl’s Northern Ireland distribution hub.

The company has entered the pre-application phase, lodging a proposal of application notice with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on Tuesday.

Heron Bros declined to comment on who it is developing the site for, but it’s understood the development is not speculative, with a major logistics operator thought to be in talks to take on the facility.

Plans for the 20-acre site include around 250,000 sq ft of floor space and 50 loading bays.

Industry monitor Construction Information Services Ireland estimates the development will involve an investment of around £18 million.

A significant amount of storage has been given over to freezers, with large storage space also included for alcohol and dry goods.

The initial plans drawn up by Portadown-based HPA Architecture include parking for some 195 staff.

The planning precedent for a major distribution hub on the site has already been established.

Heron Bros secured planning permission around a decade ago develop multiple logistics units at Nutts Corner roundabout ranging from 20,000 sq ft to 390,000 sq ft.

But the developer had to go down the appeal route after planning permission was originally refused.

The case eventually ended up in High Court, with the original decision quashed. The application went back to the Planning Appeals Commission where the Department for Infrastructure withdrew its objections.

A unit was later developed in 2018 for the Spanish Cosentino Group, which produces and distributes high-spec architectural surfaces.

But the rest of the site remains vacant.

How the proposed distribution hub will look.

It now looks likely that much of the site will be occupied by a sole business.

Although the food storage nature of the facility suggests it could be utilised by a major retailer, the inclusion of a vehicle maintenance facility and fuel tanks points to the logistics industry.

The plans also provide for staff accommodation and offices.

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