Work on the 670,000sq ft storage and distribution centre at Stafford North Business Park, off the A34, is nearly finished.
The building, being delivered by commercial property developer Stoford, is due to be handed over to Pets at Home next month and the site is set to employ more than 750 people when it opens.
But a new access roundabout at the A34 is not expected to be completed by this time. Construction of the roundabout started in February and the scheme is set to take around 18 months to complete.
Planning permission for the development was granted by Stafford Borough Council in January 2021 subject to a series of conditions. These included the development not being brought into use until the new site access roundabout had been completed.
It is now proposed that the roundabout will operate on a “left in, left out” basis when the site opens to allow vehicle access while work on the eastern side of the carriageway works are completed.
This means that vehicles travelling on the northbound A34 will be able to turn left into the site and left to exit, but anyone wishing to travel south along the A34 after leaving the site will need to drive up to the A51 roundabout to turn round.
On Monday, Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee agreed for conditions agreed as part of the 2021 permission to be varied to allow the site to open while work continues on the roundabout. Members visited the development before making their decision at a special meeting.
Stoford’s planning director Jo Russell told the committee: “The building is near its completion. We are contracted to hand over that building to Pets at Home at the end of July this year.
"Pets at Home will complete their internal fit-out of the building and they wish to be operational and provide employment by the end of November this year.
“They will clearly require a functional access, hence your site visit today. You will have seen works have started on the roundabout and off-site improvements.
“However, the programme for completion of these works now extends to late summer next year – nine months later than when Pets at Home need to be in occupation. It’s being driven by the expiry of their current lease on their Stoke premises.
“Unless Pets at Home can operate on this new Stafford site later this year they risk having no premises from which to operate from across the county. This places significant risk on their business.
“The solution is to vary planning conditions on this permission. We have discussed this at length with officers and the county council’s highways authority and they are in agreement this is a satisfactory solution for the first 18 months of Pets at Home’s operation.
“Stoford have paid for the full cost of implementing completing the works, including a 20% cost overrun contingency. These funds are with the county council and so I can assure you there is no risk of completed works not being paid for.”