Transformation work could starts on sugar beet factory alongside A14 in Sproughton from 2017

David Ellesmere at the former beet factory site.

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

Work to redevelop the former British Sugar factory at Sproughton on the edge of Ipswich could start in 2017 after consultants draw up a masterplan for the 130-acre site.

Ipswich Council paid £10m for the land at the end of last year. In last month’s autumn statement it was announced that the site would become an Enterprise Zone – which would give considerable incentives to businesses looking to move there and would allow the council to invest more into infrastructure.

This week’s executive meeting at the borough agreed which consultancy should draw up the masterplan in the confidential section of the meeting because financial details were discussed.

The identity of the council’s partner will be revealed in a few weeks once the details of the contract have been signed and the unsuccessful bidders have been told they will not be working on the project.

Council leader David Ellesmere said: “Things are now progressing well and the Enterprise Zone announcement should make the site even more attractive.

“We have had businesses wanting to come to part of the site already – but we feel it is very important to have a masterplan drawn up before we see development start.

“It will look at the infrastructure needed, the roads, the drainage, the power supplies. Also part of the land does have some contamination and that is an issue that will have to be dealt with.”

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One issue that will face developers is the old factory silos which still stand on the site. Mr Ellesmere said: “It could be that they re demolished and the concrete stays on the site as hardcore to build the new roads.”

The site is in Babergh district and is zoned for business use – its position beside the A14 is seen as a major asset – and the authority has resisted attempts to build homes there in the past.

But Mr Ellesmere did not rule out the possibility that a number of homes could be included in the masterplan: “At this stage we have an open mind on what should happen there.

“We are working closely with Babergh and talking to them about the site and I am not sure they are as totally opposed to any housing there as perhaps they have been in the past.”

The sugar beet factory closed in 2001 and the site has been derelict since then – several previous development proposals have failed to materialise.