Wherstead business parks to create up to 600 jobs – but is village being ‘sacrificed’?

PUBLISHED: 10:46 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:46 30 July 2020

Locations for the new services and two commercial business parks in Wherstead, discussed by Babergh District Council's planning committee. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Locations for the new services and two commercial business parks in Wherstead, discussed by Babergh District Council's planning committee. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

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Two new business parks are to be created in Wherstead that could create up to 600 new jobs – but fears have been voiced that the village is being “sacrificed to the concrete mixer”.

Babergh District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday gave the green light for an industrial park on land north of Bobbit’s Lane, directly attached to a new services also approved by the committee, while a campus-style commercial park off Vicarage Lane was also given the go-ahead.

MORE: New services and drive-thru McDonald’s approved for Wherstead

According to the Bobbit’s Lane developers, Pigeon Investment Management Ltd, it will include storage, industrial and light-industrial units, creating 300 jobs, and talks were already at an advanced stage with two potential occupiers.
The Vicarage Lane site, planned by Burnt Wood Ltd, will be an ‘incubator’ space for start-ups and growing businesses estimated to create 150-300 jobs on grade two agricultural land.

That will be opposite the Peninsula Business Centre but lies just outside the border of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Both outline applications were approved by the committee, although the Vicarage Lane development had to rely on the committee chairman’s casting vote to secure permission.

Dan Harness, director of Harwin Property Consultants who spoke in support of the Bobbit’s Lane plans, said: “We have seen just how vital the industrial logistics sector is in keeping the country moving [during coronavirus] and has been the most robust property sector,” adding that the proximity to the A14 was “one of the most critical considerations of occupiers”.

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Andrew Fillmore from Pigeon said: “As a Suffolk-based company we are committed to bringing forward high quality, deliverable and sustainable schemes across the county while respecting existing communities and providing significant infrastructure benefits.”

It is anticipated that the final details application will be lodged by Pigeon in September for construction to begin early next year. Occupiers can then begin moving in from late 2021 or early 2022.

The Pigeon development, alongside the new services application, will generate junction improvements along the two teardrop-shaped roundabouts of the A137, with a reduced speed limit to 40mph.

Agents on behalf of the Vicarage Lane site said there was a “strong need” for the development there.

But councillors raised concerns over the level of development Wherstead village was being expected to take.

Robin Coates from Wherstead Parish Council said: “We do feel like we are being sacrificed to the concrete mixer” while ward councillor Jane Gould said there was a clear cumulative effect on a village of just a few hundred people.

Councillor David Busby questioned: “Once we start building on the countryside, where do we stop?”

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