Broadmeadow - for and against

FOR six years the British Sugar plant at Sproughton has sat silent.Now JG Land wants to build a new community there with homes but Babergh council wants to see the large site developed for industry.

FOR six years the British Sugar plant at Sproughton has sat silent.

Now JG Land wants to build a new community there with homes but Babergh council wants to see the large site developed for industry.

Today environment editor PAUL GEATER looks at the crucial issues to be decided at the ongoing public inquiry.

The argument for Broadmeadow:

DEVELOPER JG Land sees a new community at Broadmeadow as a natural extension of Ipswich.

It also says that providing homes for thousands of people there, pressure will be eased on some other potential housing sites around the town - especially the northern fringe.

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Planning director John Jowitt is heading up the team of experts at the public inquiry.

Their application is based on statistics which show that the number of homes in the Ipswich area needs to increase substantially over the next few years.

While many of these new homes will be built in the town centre and Waterfront area, there is a need for more traditional houses on the edge of town.

New communities are already being built at Ravenswood, Warren Heath, Pinewood, and at Blakenham Park on the opposite side of Sproughton Road from former sugar factory.

Since the closure of the sugar factory more than six years ago there have been no serious attempts by businesses to develop the site - the Broadmeadow proposal has been the only planning application that has been formally made for the site.

Mr Jowitt has warned that if the Broadmeadow application is rejected, the site could be left derelict for many years.

He said: “Broadmeadow is the most sustainable development site in Babergh and stands as a gateway to Ipswich from the A14. The site has been vacant for the past five years and in that time there has been no realistic interest in using the site commercially.

“Our proposals would provide much needed housing on a brownfield site. The proposed scheme is a direct response to the considerable support we have received from the community during our extensive consultation.

“Babergh council is making the argument that the site is essential for port related facilities. According to their own evidence to the Inquiry, this would mean the site would be used for container storage where stacks of containers eight high, which is equal to half the height of the present silos, could be stored.

“In reality, the oversupply of employment land in the area, coupled with the fact that a purely commercial development is unviable, would mean nothing would happen on the site, leaving it as a derelict eyesore with new housing instead continuing to have to be built on nearby greenfield land.”

The case against Broadmeadow.

BABERGH council has come out firmly against a residential development on the former British Sugar site, allocating it for industrial development in the district's planning framework.

Planning officers feel there is a clear need for more industrial land along the A14/rail line corridor - and see the former sugar site as ideal with its excellent access on to the main road.

While there have been no firm proposals to develop the site for industry since British Sugar closed, planning officials are confident that applications would follow for business uses.

And they also believe that business use makes much more economic sense than building homes on the site - because it could be phased better.

Surveyor Nicholas Hood, giving evidence for the council, told the public inquiry this week that a housing development needed most of the heavy infrastructure work to be completed before the first homes could be occupied.

“People don't want to live in an area where there is major infrastructure work going on and that puts a lot of the costs of development up front, before any money starts to come in,” he warned.

“You don't have the same pressure if you are developing for business so the infrastructure costs can be spread over a much longer period.”

The council has warned that sites as large and well-located as that at Sproughton rarely become available - and that to lose the opportunity to develop it for business would be a major blow for the area.

What the neighbours think.

THE British Sugar site is in the parish of Sproughton - and residents of the village feel that whatever the final decision, their lives will be affected.

Prof Simon Lavington is the chairman of the parish council's transport panel and has been following the arguments with growing concern.

He said: “We hear that doing nothing is not really an option, but so far as the village itself is concerned having nothing there is the best solution - although we realise that it will eventually be developed.

“From the village point of view the industrial option is better of the two proposals for the site.

“Lorries are banned from travelling through the village and that ban is fairly rigorously enforced so we should not have to worry to much about them using our roads as a rat-run.

“But you can't ban private cars and if there was a substantial residential development there, the number of cars in the village would inevitably rise.

“Also an industrial development is better for nature than a residential development because there would be less disruption from people walking through the green areas.”

He said that overall the industrial option was considered as the lesser of two evils by Sproughton residents.

What happens now?

THE public inquiry in Hadleigh will run until the end of next week and is then likely to continue for a few days at the end of the month.

Planning inspector Richard Ogier will then prepare a report which will be passed to the secretary of state for communities and local government, currently Ruth Kelly, for a final decision.

That is expected towards the end of the year.

If Broadmeadow is given outline planning permission, detailed plans would be finalised and submitted to Babergh for final approval, with work expected to start on the site from the middle of next year.

If the council wins the planning appeal, then everything will go back to the start and a new search will start for scheme that is able to meet the council's planning guidelines.

What is on offer with Broadmeadow?

DEVELOPERS JG Land wants to build 1,100 homes on the site - about the same number as will eventually be built at Ravenswood on the other side of the town.

Among the homes will be 385 “affordable” properties built for rent or shared-ownership.

A new primary school.

A shopping centre aimed at serving the immediate population - Morrison's supermarket is just the other side of the railway line.

New green spaces including a cricket pitch and a nature reserve on the island in the River Gipping.

New business space - offices and small workshop units.

A new cycle route from the development to the town centre.

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