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Massive warehouse project could create up to 500 new jobs

PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:16 08 September 2020

Fencing has been out up around the Uniserve site at Clickett Hill, Trimley St Mary Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Fencing has been out up around the Uniserve site at Clickett Hill, Trimley St Mary Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Archant

Work to build an enormous warehouse the size of nearly six football pitches and create hundreds of new jobs could start within weeks.

Ready for work to start - the Uniserve site at Clickett Hill, Trimley St Mary Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLReady for work to start - the Uniserve site at Clickett Hill, Trimley St Mary Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Uniserve has been planning the project near Felixstowe port for six years but it has been beset by problems, including a huge escalation in the original £45million price.

But now the company has asked planners for permission to make some internal changes to the proposed building to enable it to go ahead.

The project – which is expected to create up to 500 jobs – will see an 11.5-acre warehouse built on a 26-acre field on land owned by Trinity College, Cambridge, alongside the A14 Port of Felixstowe Road at Clicketts Hill, Trimley St Mary.

The building will be able to handle more than 100 lorries at once.

The 27-acre field has been waiting for work to start on the Uniserve project since 2014 Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLThe 27-acre field has been waiting for work to start on the Uniserve project since 2014 Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Uniserve has told East Suffolk Council that it had intended to build sooner. The original £45m cost was based on three prices received from established contractors but when the detailed work was tendered to sub-contractors the price rose by 45%.

The company said: “Then we were hit by the Brexit vote which resulted in the finance market (which we were more reliant on than before due to the increased costs involved) being very reluctant to lend until the way ahead between the UK and continental Europe was more certain.

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“Finally we found that the investors we were talking to did not really understand multi-storey warehouses, a product well-established elsewhere in the world, but not a building type established in the UK property market. All these factors together have caused a delay to our development and operational plans.”

MORE: Plans show what new Super Distribution Centre at Felixstowe would look like

Instead of three mezzanine floors covering much of the building, this element has been reduced to smaller mezzanine areas, meaning storage capacity and the height of the building, which was due to be 40 metres high, is reduced.

Original plans included a bottling operation, general merchandise, chilled and frozen foods, clothing distribution and e-fulfilment operations.

Now Uniserve says: “We are proposing to operate the building ourselves, as before, and there will be a large freezer store component (which is a major expansion for our Felixstowe-based Seafast business) together with general portcentric warehouse operations, much of which being as originally planned.

“Whilst disappointed not to have been able to deliver the originally approved Super DC, we are excited to bring these plans forward and would like to commence construction as soon as possible in 2020 so that operations can commence in the second quarter of next year, expanding our Group operations in Felixstowe, bringing to the area further business and significant additional employment in a ley location immediately adjacent to the Port of Felixstowe.”

Portcentric warehouses provide a “one-stop shop” for importing, repacking and distributing goods specifically to their destination. Jobs include warehouse freight handlers, sorters and packers; forklift drivers, sales staff, HGV drivers and security officers.

The site has recently been fenced off ready for a start on the project, with some container offices and facilities already delivered.


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