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Crisis delays tomato glasshouse expansion plans

PUBLISHED: 10:42 14 August 2020

Sterling Suffolk's glasshouses at Great Blakenham  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Sterling Suffolk's glasshouses at Great Blakenham Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

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The owners of a huge tomato glasshouse complex in Ipswich were close to signing a contract which would have doubled its size when the coronavirus pandemic erupted.

The glasshouses taking shape Sterling Suffolk site at Blakenham  Picture: RICHARD LEWISThe glasshouses taking shape Sterling Suffolk site at Blakenham Picture: RICHARD LEWIS

Richard Lewis, who runs Sterling Suffolk at Great Blakenham, said they were on the cusp of getting builders in to take the complex to just over 8ha (hectares) but contractors wanted extra contractual safeguards due to the pandemic which caused the project to stall.

It was hoped the building work would have started this year – but Sterling Suffolk still wants to get the project off the ground next year.

MORE – Giant new glasshouse operation at Ipswich gets ready for arrival of first tomato plants

“I think we would have expanded the site. We were close to the point of signing a contract to build this year but obviously covid happened. It was pre-lockdown but we could see something was happening,” said Mr Lewis.

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“We are still waiting to build next year hopefully if all goes well and we can sign the contract.”

In all, the company wants to take the complex to three times its present size over time.

The East of England has become a hotspot for new tomato glasshouses with the most expansion in the UK, said Mr Lewis.

“We have seen demand go up,” he said. “The supermarket is our main forum and supermarket volumes have obviously increased.”


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