Plans for new freight distribution depot
Around 1,500 jobs could be created in the Stowmarket area if a major new freight distribution centre is given the go-ahead by Mid Suffolk planners.A planning application for the centre on land next to the A14 and the Great Eastern railway line in Stowmarket has been submitted by a developer consortium called Stowmarket Multi-Modal Distribution Park Ltd.
Around 1,500 jobs could be created in the Stowmarket area if a major new freight distribution centre is given the go-ahead by Mid Suffolk planners.
A planning application for the depot on land next to the A14 and the Great Eastern railway line in Stowmarket has been submitted by a developer consortium called Stowmarket Multi-Modal Distribution Park Ltd.
The proposal involves the construction of a road and a rail interchange with associated warehouses and general industrial buildings.
A similar application on the site four years ago met with opposition from local residents and ultimately was withdrawn due to the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment. Stowmarket Multi-Modal Distribution Park Ltd has submitted a detailed EIA, which looks at the affects of the centre on the local environment and proposes measures to mitigate the impact.
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Mike Carpenter, head of planning at Bidwells who is representing the consortium, said plans for the new depot were prompted by the recent permission granted for expansion at the nearby ports of Felixstowe and Harwich, and by government policy which seeks to get more freight off the road and on to rail.
“The proposal is being brought forward in response to growth in the movement of goods through the Haven Gateway ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich, and the need for additional rail freight handling facilities,” said Mr Carpenter.
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“The Haven Gateway ports have a key role to play in both national and international freight movement and the development would bring considerable benefits to the regional economy.”
The consortium looked at other sites in the region but, he said, the Stowmarket site was “entirely appropriate” located next to the “A14 trans-European highway” and the railway line.
He admitted it could take time to transfer the freight off the road and on to rail, but he said the proposals covered scenarios of two trains per day into the site up to 24 trains per day. He believed there would be a natural shift on to rail as bottlenecks on the roads increased in line with increased freight movements through the ports.
If permission for the development is granted, it would take up to five years to build the new distribution centre.
Mr Carpenter expects the planning review process to take until the end of the year, saying it is a complex application which will require wide consultation.
“Local people have got concerns and it's understandable they will have some questions - they haven't seen the application documents yet. Hopefully we will be able to allay some of those fears.
“This is an opportunity to bring many more jobs to Stowmarket and enable the Haven Gateway to realise its potential of delivering a real boost to the regional economy.”