New freight centre set for Suffolk

HUGELY controversial proposals to build a massive new freight distribution centre in the Suffolk countryside are set to be revived today.A fresh application to build the new depot, which would create 1,500 jobs, is being submitted to Mid Suffolk Council.

By Paul Geater

HUGELY controversial proposals to build a massive new freight distribution centre in the Suffolk countryside are set to be revived today.

A fresh application to build the new depot, which would create 1,500 jobs, is being submitted to Mid Suffolk Council.

But campaigners who opposed the original scheme four years ago today vowed to stand firm and fight the proposal.

The huge centre would be built between the main rail line and the A1120 feeder road from the A14 to Stowmarket. Lorries would reach the depot through an exit from an existing roundabout on the road.

However the proposal seems certain to prompt a storm of protest from local residents who fear the loss of rural calm and are also concerned about the impact on roads and the flood plain of the River Gipping.

Most Read

The proposal has been revived by property agents Bidwells who say it is the kind of environmentally-friendly development that the government is trying to promote.

It comes at a time that the government has announced an independent planning inspectorate to decide on major issues such as SnOasis and a third Sizewell, which it is feared will take away the say councils and residents have over new schemes.

Head of Planning at Bidwells, Michael Carpenter said: “The proposal is being brought forward in response to growth in the movement of goods through the Haven Gateway ports of Felixstowe, Harwich, and Ipswich, and the need for additional rail freight handling facilities.

The depot would take up to five years to build but once it is complete rail-based container traffic would enter the site from the ports on a daily basis. Loads would be broken-up or reprocessed on-site and leave either by road or rail.

It is currently subject to an outline planning proposal but Bidwells have submitted an environmental assessment report as part of the application.

However pressure group ACAC (Action Committee Against Containers) formed to oppose the previous application is now to launch a new attack.

Russell Stott, who four years ago formed ACAC, said: “Residents of the area have already had informal talks about fighting this proposal - there are many grounds on which it would be very bad news indeed.

“One of the most serious is that it takes no account of the natural state of the land. It doesn't follow the line of Gipping Valley.

“The council and conservation groups have spent years working to preserve and restore the Gipping Valley and then this proposal comes along which would just concrete over the whole thing.”

WHAT THE RESIDENTS SAY

Fellow protester Fred Hillyer said: “We fought this four years ago and we are ready to do so again. It would put another 300-400 lorries a day on to the Tesco roundabout (on the A1120) and it would cause a huge amount of noise and pollution for people who live at Cedar's Park.

“Four years ago they were talking about 500 people working there - now the figure has gone up to 1,500. That would be much to large to cope with.”

Mr Carpenter hoped all the concerns of protesters would be addressed in the environmental impact study which would be prepared as part of the application.

Resident Shirley Scales of Nightingale Close, said: “We don't want it, it will be noisy and there will be a lot of traffic.

“I have been here seven years and have got used to it being peaceful.

”This will end it. There will even be disturbances at night.”

Another resident Fiona White, also of Nightingale Close, said: “In principle I would be opposed to it. We haven't had all the facts. Nobody has thought to tell us anything. We don't want to have to put up with the noise.”

THE PROPOSAL

A PROPOSAL to build a major freight depot on the site at Creeting St Peter just outside Stowmarket was first mooted in 2003.

It was backed by rail company GB Railfreight which at that time was the sister company of local train company Anglia Railways.

The proposal then - and now - was for a major freight distribution depot to be set up away from the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich which both handle a large number of containers.

These are managed and sorted into trainloads or loaded on to lorries near the quayside before starting their journey to all parts of the country either by rail or road.

Michael Carpenter said: “There is already a shortage of space at the ports so a facility like this is badly needed. It should also help to ease the pressure on the roads heading to Felixstowe and Harwich.”

The previous application was withdrawn in 2004 in the face of local opposition - but the developers said a new proposal would eventually be submitted.

Now a new company, Stowmarket Multi-Modal, has been formed to develop the site and has just submitted a formal outline planning application.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter