Homes agreed for AXA site

Councillors unanimously approved the housing scheme for the AXA Westcliffe site in Lytham.

Councillors unanimously approved the housing scheme for the AXA Westcliffe site in Lytham.

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Plans for 45 homes on the site of an insurance giant’s UK printing department has been given unanimous approval by Fylde councillors.

AXA Westcliffe, AXA Insurance’s printing plant and the only one of its type in the UK, will be bulldozed for properties after councillors agreed to plans for 45 two-storey homes at the Westcliffe Road-based office in Lytham.

Coun Ben Aitken, chairman of Fylde Council’s development management committee said: “The committee gave unanimous approval for the site’s re-development.

“We happened to have on our committee one of the people who is on the workforce in that particular building.

“He explained AXA are outsourcing and the building would need significant work doing to it to bring it up to modern specifications.”

The company, which has two sites in Lytham, including Ballam Road, revealed its plans to sell its smaller building at Westcliffe in November.

The company added the move would not result in any job losses, with a new print department to be built “in the vicinity or at least within the region”.

Coun Aitken added the homes being built on a brown field site was a significant factor in councillors agreeing to the development, which will be carried out by Sheffield property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton.

The decision was approved despite six objections from residents concerned at the plans, with worries including traffic congestion, design issues, loss of privacy and a concern side streets would be used as rat-runs.

Why does AXA want to move?

The AXA Westcliffe print shop has been the subject of steady investment by the insurance giant since 2009 and handles 100 million pages of print every year sending out insurance documents and letters to customers.

But a spokesman for the site said it is no longer fit for purpose – mainly due to the fact it was first designed to be a sports centre.

In the late 1980s, a company had planned to open the building as a sports venue complete with swimming pool, squash courts and restaurant, but after funding issues it never fully opened.

AXA bought the building, stripping out the interior for hi-tech printing equipment, but an AXA spokesman admitted it is no longer viable.

He said: “The equipment is state-of- the-art but the building is not fit for purpose.”

He added the company did not wish to move its printing operation to its Ballam Road site as it takes up a lot of room and is too noisy.

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