Environmental group's concerns about 'industrial scale' business park expansion

Carlton Park

The campaigners from Rethink at Carlton Park at the site of the planned business park expansion - Credit: NIGEL BATTERSBY/RETHINK AT CARLTON PARK

A more detailed assessment is needed to determine the impact a planned business park expansion could have on a Grade-II* listed church, according to an environmental group. 

Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS) is concerned about the effect plans by Roger Skinner Holdings Ltd to add warehouses, offices and cafes at Carlton Park near Kelsale will have on St Peter’s Church. 

In a response to the plans, the SPS, which campaigns to protect the environment for future generations, was worried about the size of the "industrial scale" buildings, which could "degrade the wider rural setting of the church".

Other heritage assets in the area could also be affected, SPS director Fiona Cairns said in a letter to East Suffolk Council’s head of planning Michelle Coupe. 

In particular, she highlighted a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and Design and Access Statement (DAS) included in the planning application, which she said were unclear about the scale and layout of the proposed new units and their likely impact on the setting and views of the church. 

She said: “Neither the HIA or DAS refer to the respective heights of the structures, nor identify how the mitigation has minimised impacts. 

“In the opinion of the society, a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is required with agreed viewpoints to make clear what, if any, the visual impact will be on the Grade II* listed church."

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Last week, the EADT reported how action group Rethink at Carlton Park, which is opposed to the plans in their current form, had started a petition against the development, fearing environmental damage and noise pollution. 

So far, the change.org petition has been signed by nearly 500 people. 

The plans were also discussed at a Saxmundham Town Council meeting on Monday when there were presentations by the Rethink group and Jonathan Clogg, commercial development consultant for Roger Skinner Holdings Ltd. 

Last week, Mr Clogg defended the proposals, saying the land was formally adopted in the East Suffolk Local Plan for 2020 for employment uses and was an extension of a long-established industrial business park that provided an employment hub for Saxmundham. 

The development proposes the creation of mixed commercial units totalling 4,720sq m on empty land including eight flexible sized units between 325sq m and 1,380sq m.