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AMAZON: Lease signed on massive new warehouse in Knowsley

AMAZON: Lease signed on massive new warehouse in Knowsley

Image: LDRS

Amazon has agreed to take over an enormous distribution centre in Knowsley, the local council has revealed.

The online retail giant has signed a 10-year lease on a massive 217,000 square foot warehouse built two years ago on Knowsley Business Park using a loan from the council.

Cllr Tony Brennan, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, revealed the decision during a Knowsley Council meeting on Wednesday (July 21), hailing the prospect of new jobs for the area.

He said: “I can announce tonight that a 10-year lease of the building has been signed, final fit out works are underway for Amazon to occupy the 217,000 square foot facility creating much welcome new jobs and opportunities – jobs that will be available for our residents in Knowsley.”

He added that Amazon was also expected to bring in more than £350,000 per year for the council in business rates.

The distribution centre on Moorgate Road is Amazon’s second facility in Knowsley, with a smaller warehouse on a neighbouring site, and the company is believed to have acquired the former Sonae site in Kirkby with plans to build a third warehouse.

The Moorgate Road warehouse was completed in 2019 by private developer Flintrock, which had received a £4m loan from the council to support the project.

Cllr Brennan revealed that the loan had now been repaid in full, along with £1.3m in interest payments and profit share.

He said: “This is a total of £5.3m – money that can be reinvested by the council in delivering services.

“So we have secured a fantastic financial return of 23.5% over the three-year deal with the developer.”

Cllr Brennan added: “Had the council not stepped in and stepped forward and offered support when support was needed, not only would we not have benefited from circa an additional £1m by way of profit and profit share, the chances are that the site would still be sitting there undeveloped.

“So there would be no annual business rate yield, nor would there be job opportunities for our residents.

“I think we can all agree, yet another outstanding success story made possible by this council.”

However, leader of the opposition Kai Taylor sounded a note of caution.

Cllr Taylor said: “We were delighted to hear that the loan has now been repaid, following the approval of this large sum of financial support, there seemed to be little progress in terms of the development of the site for a number of years, and rightly so many councillors were concerned about when, or even if the council would be repaid.

“A local authority providing such a large sum of money to a private company is highly unusual, and we are relieved to hear this has now been paid back.

“The new businesses rates from this development will undoubtably be most welcomed by the council, but I’m afraid I don’t share the same level of enthusiasm as some Labour councillors in receiving the news that Amazon has signed a ten-year lease to occupy the site.

“There are a concerning number of employee accounts, that have raised real concerns regarding working conditions, employment rights and the overall treatment of Amazon employees.”

Amazon has been strongly criticised by trade unions for its working conditions, most recently in October 2020 when the Trades Union Congress published a report on the company detailing complaints about pay and conditions.

The TUC report called for more union representation in Amazon warehouses and greater local government oversight over working conditions.

Amazon denied the TUC’s claims, calling them a “false picture” and “sensationalist”.

Words: Chris McKeon, Local Democracy Reporter

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