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Green light expected for new business park at Ipswich sugar beet site at Sproughton

PUBLISHED: 05:51 20 November 2017

David Ellesmere at the sugar beet site in Sproughton. File picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

David Ellesmere at the sugar beet site in Sproughton. File picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

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Proposals to develop the former sugar beet factory site in Sproughton on the edge of Ipswich into a new business park are about to take a big leap forward.

The Sproughton sugar beet factory in May 1989. Only the silos remain today. Picture: DAVID KINDRED The Sproughton sugar beet factory in May 1989. Only the silos remain today. Picture: DAVID KINDRED

And work to demolish the silos that still dominate the site 16 years after the factory closed is due to start before Christmas.

An outline planning application to develop the site as a business park has now been formally lodged with Babergh Council.

The site is owned by Ipswich council – but the plans have to be approved by Babergh because it is just outside the borough boundary.

If the application is approved that should clear the way for work on some of the infrastructure like roads, electricity and water supplies should get under way. The silos are expected to come down in the new year after preparatory work next month.

The silos at the sugar beet factory will be demolished early next year.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN The silos at the sugar beet factory will be demolished early next year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

And already the borough is talking to one potential tenant about putting up a large building on one part of the 130-acre site.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the submission of the planning application was a crucial point in the development of the site.

He said: “We have been working with Babergh and with the LEP (New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership) to set this up as an Enterprise Zone that will encourage tenants to move in here.”

But because it is such a large site, the borough has prepared for a 10-year programme to develop the site. A timescale that Mr Ellesmere thinks could be over-cautious.

Babergh cabinet member John Ward. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Babergh cabinet member John Ward. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He said: “Given the interest we’ve already had in the site – and given its superb access to the A14 – I would be surprised if it isn’t completed long before then.”

The number of jobs created will depend on the nature of the businesses that move there, but there could be thousands created in and around the park.

Julian Munson from the LEP said: “This represents a real step forward for Sproughton Enterprise Park. It offers enormous potential for ambitious businesses to grow and innovate in an accessible location.

“Add in the Enterprise Zone benefits of access to Superfast broadband, simplified planning and a business rate discount of up to £275,000 over five years and I’d expect interest to be very high.”

Babergh cabinet member John Ward said: “This has taken a long time to get this far, but we have been working closely together on this and are delighted at the progress that has been made.

“That is a very important development site and we are looking forward to seeing the plans brought to fruition.”

History of the site

The sugar beet factory at Sproughton was built in 1925 under a government drive to make Britain more self-sufficient in food after nearly being starved into submission during the First World War.

It was expanded over the years, with the four silos – the only part still standing – added in the early 1960s.

The plant closed in 2001 as its owners concentrated on larger factories and the site was earmarked for industrial development by Babergh council.

The council resist an attempt to develop the land for housing – rejecting a planning application and winning an appeal a decade ago.

The site remained derelict and was bought by Ipswich council in 2014. The borough was concerned it could be turned into a new retail park.

Since then much of the land has been decontaminated and a masterplan for its future development has been drawn up.

What next for Sproughton site?

The first thing that will happen is the four silos, the last part of the factory left standing, will be demolished early next year.

Preparations will start before Christmas, but the work will start in the new year and will take some time – they will be brought down from the top, there will be not big explosion because the site is too near the A14 and railway line.

We should also soon hear who the first prospective occupier is – and get some idea of the kind of business interested in the site.

Its easy access to the A14 is likely to make it a magnet for businesses in the distribution industry – but any company needing to get products to markets around the region is likely to see this as an attractive site.

Infrastructure work will start in the new year – using some of the concrete from the demolished silos to build the roads – and the first business units could also take shape before the end of 2018 if all planning hurdles are crossed over the next few months.

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