In March this year, the steelwork started at the 404,000 square foot distribution centre we are building for the Arcadia Group at the new phase of Prologis RFI DIRFT. On the same day, the foundations of the first houses were dug at Urban & Civic’s and Aviva Investors’ neighbouring residential development at Houlton. Together, the two developments are regenerating the former Rugby Radio Station site and although the timing of the two construction programmes was coincidental, it was nevertheless significant.
At DIRFT, we are expanding the existing site by building 7.8 million square feet of rail-served logistics space and a new rail terminal that will bring around 9,000 jobs to Rugby and Daventry. At Houlton, the developers are creating a Sustainable Urban Extension for Rugby with 6,200 new homes. Against the background of the current ‘beds and sheds’ debate, this simultaneous development shows that with careful planning, industrial and residential schemes can work well together, even on so large a scale. For us at Prologis, the sight of the Arcadia steel frame taking shape was a milestone.
We first secured a holding in the Daventry International Rail Terminal (DIRFT) in 2006 when we acquired Severn Trent Properties Ltd. By this stage, the original 364 acre site had been developed, so we became owners of the rail terminal and a 130 acre expansion site, which we subsequently developed to provide rail-connected buildings for Tesco (840,000 square feet); Sainsbury’s (1 million square feet) and Eddie Stobart (420,000 square feet).
An increasing number of companies were beginning to realise that transporting goods by rail is cost effective, more reliable and more environmentally-friendly than by road. We could see that an extended rail-served development at DIRFT would meet the future needs of our customers and so we formed a joint venture with BT and Aviva Investors, the owners of the adjoining Rugby Radio Station site.
We invested resources and expertise in planning this third phase of DIRFT and at the end of 2012, we submitted a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) application for the site – the first of its kind – to the Planning Inspectorate. In July 2014, the Planning Inspectorate granted a Development Consent Order and we began preparing to start work on site.
The first phase of the infrastructure programme began in 2015. We invested over £30 million in the programme and by the time it completed in spring this year we had formed the development plateaux for the new buildings and the rail terminal, installed all the services, constructed the access roads and built an on-site rail bridge.
Meanwhile, at the end of 2016, we started work on both the new Arcadia building and a 115,824 square foot speculative building on the neighbouring plot. Both buildings, which are at the entrance to the new site, will complete by the end of this year.
It is more than 10 years since we started working at DIRFT, so it is hugely rewarding to see this third phase come to life and to know that we can help our customers improve the efficiency of their supply chains both now and in the future.