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Dealers shun 'green' option

Increasing Government legislation and pressure from environmental groups is making many dealer groups reconsider out-of-town, US-styled retail parks and spacious greenfield showroom developments.

Chris Scaramanga, managing director of Scaramanga Design Partnership, said: “We are increasingly looking towards developing what are dubbed as 'brownfield sites' for the dealerships of the future.

“The preservation of green belts and the countryside has become such a priority that forward thinking companies are looking at inner-city regeneration as the best option.” But, despite being environmentally sound, brownfield development has its own price.

“It is extremely rewarding to redevelop nasty old industrial areas but we have to carry out in-depth ground investigations to assess the contamination from previous activities. There are many oil and chemical residues that need cleaning up before any work can commence and to reverse this sort of damage is not cheap. In many cases, making the site fit for use can cost as much as buying the land in the first place.”

Nissan recently invested in a dockside regeneration project in Liverpool, building the new MacLaren dealership on Sefton Street with the help of Scaramanga.

Ian Rutter, partner in MacLaren Nissan, believes that inner-city dealerships offer many advantages over the out-of-town retail parks. “As well as the fact that urban regeneration breathes life back into city centres, basing the dealership so centrally is helpful to customers,” he said.

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