Jobs-creating project for old Suffolk airfield site set for refusal

Debach airfield

The new development will take place at the former Debach airfield site, now occupied by Clopton Commercial Park and Debach Enterprises - Credit: GOOGLE EARTH

Proposals for a jobs-creating project at a former Suffolk airfield look set to be rejected by planners - because there are already enough suitable sites elsewhere in the area.

The plans for land at Debach would see business units, a creche and gym which could create 125 new jobs.

Oasis Property Ltd said the take-up of its current units at Clopton Commercial Park at Debach Airfield were "beyond expectations" and there is a demand for more.

However, East Suffolk Council planners believe there is no need for another industrial development in the countryside and they have already allocated enough sites for such development.

In a report, case officer Natalie Webb said the project was against policy. She is recommending the planning committee south on November 23 refuse the access plans.

She said: "In considering this as a speculative employment development opportunity consideration must be given to the more strategic position on employment land and development in the area.

"Whilst employment does bring economic benefits and job creation, unnecessary unplanned employment development which is not led by a recognised need can be harmful to wider economic growth in the area and the viability of planned employment sites.

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"That includes in this case, the immediately adjacent allocated employment site and its own opportunities for more efficient expansion and beneficial redevelopment.

"Since acquiring the site, the applicant has sought to create smaller business units within existing units to meet a demand for smaller businesses, however the applicant has not presented as case on why employment expansion proposed in this unplanned site cannot be accommodated within the allocated area or as part of extant consents on that site."

There were allocated suitable sites at Bredfield, Wickham Market, Framlingham, Melton and Martlesham.

Although Clopton Parish Council has been concerned at the number of HGVs on village roads and increasing traffic in general, it does support Oasis Property's plans and feels there has been a "huge improvement" at the airfield.

Oasis Property wants to use a four-acre plot next door to the Debach Enterprises warehousing site and alongside the old airfield runway to create a business centre, and 12 one- and two-storey business units, totalling 2,850 sq m of floorspace, plus 135 car parking spaces.

The scheme would also feature a yoga studio, creche and gym for those working at the new development and also the established businesses on the airfield.

In documents submitted to the council, Oasis Property said since acquiring Clopton Park two years ago old style warehouse and factory units had been made into smaller units to attract smaller businesses, reducing the heavy vehicular traffic. 

The company had created a "healthy business community" and the demand for the units has been "beyond our expectations".

Oasis said: "Our vision for the next phase is to be able to offer a business hub to stimulate the growth of start-up businesses where they can rent space on an all-inclusive basis from a single desk upwards, and then to be able to grow these businesses in a series of smaller units."