Masterplan for British Sugar site at Sproughton on the way

David Ellesmere at the beet factory site.

David Ellesmere at the beet factory site. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Proposals to turn the former British Sugar beet factory at Sproughton into a new business centre are to take a major step forward over the next few weeks.

Ipswich Borough Council bought the 130-acre site for £10.6million at the end of last year from the National Asset Management Authority of Ireland and could have to spend a further £8m on infrastructure at the site.

It is now preparing to go out to tender looking for a developer to draw up a masterplan for a new business park on the site.

The tender is due to be advertised within the next few weeks – and a plan for its development should be drawn up over the next few months.

Although the borough owns the site, it is in Babergh district – and it has been allocated for business use.

Its position, and its direct link to the A14 at the Sproughton Road junction, is thought to make it ideal for business use – possibly for distribution companies.

Babergh has rejected proposals for the site to be used for housing – and has successfully fought off an appeal for this use.

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Borough council leader David Ellesmere said it was important to get the masterplan produced to work out how the site could be developed.

The site has been vacant since the sugar beet factory closed in 2001 with the only firm proposal to come forward a mixed-use development with many new homes – the proposal that was rejected by Babergh.

The borough’s purchase attracted criticism from opposition councillors and the town’s MP Ben Gummer who felt the development should have been left to the private sector.

However, Mr Ellesmere said the private sector had had 13 years to develop a proposal for the site and nothing had happened – and he expected the purchase to provide a good return for the authority.