Approval for Wherstead industrial park helps get Babergh back in business
Babergh District Council today approved plans for new commercial units in Wherstead – generating investment and 300 jobs in the area, in addition to paving the way for much-needed highways improvements.
Applicant Pigeon (Wherstead) Limited sought outline planning permission in October 2019 for the development of land around Bobbits Lane, totalling almost 20 acres.
Today, the plans came before planning committee – held virtually to ensure public safety during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Following input from planning officers, the applicant, objectors and supporters - and subsequent debate - the committee voted by seven to one that outline planning permission be granted, subject to conditions.
The site, owned and due to be developed by Suffolk based property company Pigeon (Wherstead) Limited, is ideally located for the five new commercial units proposed.
It includes direct access to the A14, one of the region’s most important trunk roads, reducing the need for HGV vehicles to travel through surrounding villages and towns unnecessarily.
In order to mitigate any additional traffic resulting from proposals – and approved plans for a local drive-thru restaurant and service station – the developer has committed to providing funding of £6 million for much-needed highways improvements.
Following discussions with the highways authorities changes will include:
- a redesign of both nearby roundabouts to improve visibility
- creation of a new lane on the A137 for traffic wishing to turn on to the A14
- a proposed reduction in speed limit to improve road safety
- Public Rights of Way, cycle ways, bus stops and a toucan crossing improvements
- footpath connectivity between Bobbits Lane and Bourne Lane
It is hoped the public rights of way changes, will help to encourage healthy lifestyles for the community, and meet the council’s ambition for greener travel options.
The requirement for commercial development in the district remains constant – with the demand for business use properties proving to be unaffected by COVID-19.
This development will also meet need arising from the changing post pandemic landscape, as businesses begin to look away from urban areas and favour well connected rural locations.
The proposals have already attracted commercial interest, with discussions currently underway between the developer and two interested businesses.
If successful, these businesses will bring inward investment and much-needed employment opportunities to Babergh, with an estimated creation of 300 full time jobs.
Once completed the commercial park is set to generate business rate income in excess of £500,000 per year, providing revenue for the council to fund vital services.
Estimated spend of a further £20 million in the construction sector, will also help to provide temporary construction jobs in the local area.
The final plans, known as 'reserved matters' are due to be considered by committee in Autumn this year.
If approved, this will enable construction to begin in 2021, with the developer aiming for completion and occupation of the units by early 2022.
Cllr Peter Beer, Chairman of Babergh District Council’s Planning Committee, said:
“After much deliberation, the committee agreed that this application supports Babergh District Council’s commitment to ensuring bright and healthy futures for its communities. The benefits of proposals far outweighing any potential harm.
“This industrial and logistics park will create 300 full time jobs in our district. This is at a time when employment opportunities are needed more than ever, as the economy begins to try and recover from COVID-19.
“It will also fund significant highways improvements that will make a real difference to one of our county’s busiest roads - reducing congestion in an area with known traffic issues and improving safety for all road users.
"This is in addition to welcome funding for more sustainable travel options, meeting our council and county wide ambitions for a greener, healthier Suffolk.
“I would like to thank my fellow committee members and officers for attending today’s planning meeting. Spanning almost seven hours it demonstrates the immense time and careful consideration that goes into large applications such as these.”