Council beet factory purchase finalised

David Ellesmere at the former Ipswich Sugar Beet Factory.

David Ellesmere at the former Ipswich Sugar Beet Factory. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Ipswich Council’s purchase of the former sugar beet factory on the edge of the town has been completed.

Now the authority has confirmed that it paid Ireland’s National Asset Management Authority (NAMA) a total of £10 million for the 130-acre site.

That is considerably less than the price paid by developers after the factory closed in 2001 – that deal was believed to total £18 million.

However the borough could have to spend up to another £8 million to clear up the site and develop infrastructure like roads, power, and drainage.

Council leader David Ellesmere visited the site shortly after confirmation of the completion came through yesterday.

He said it would now take about six months to develop a masterplan showing how the site would be cleaned up and developed.

He said: “We shall look at the options. I would like to see the silos come down, but I know some people like them. We shall explore possible industrial and business uses – it is very well sited for a distribution-based proposal.”

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The opposition Conservative on the council have been very critical of the deal, believing that the council has paid too much for the land and that a private developer could have done a better job.

Opposition leader Nadia Cenci is also critical of Mr Ellesmere’s claim that it could have become a retail park threatening the town centre. Ms Cenci said she did not believe this was likely to happen because there was not the demand for retail parks in post-recession Britain.

However the borough purchase was welcomed by Babergh council, in whose district the site is located.

Jennie Jenkins, Leader of Babergh District Council, said: “Babergh considers the latest move by Ipswich Borough Council to be a positive step and we are keen to work with them and remain committed to bringing the site back into productive use, while helping to deliver environmental improvements.”