‘Keep it commercial’ - report recommends way forward for Delphi site
A report examining potential future options for the Delphi Industries site in Sudbury has recommended it stays in commercial use.
The 121 page report commissioned by Babergh District Council on behalf of the South Suffolk Taskforce was compiled by consultants Carter Jonas.
It appraised five potential options for the nine-hectare Delphi Technologies site, off Newton Road, ranging from keeping it as a single use industrial site to developing it for housing.
The report concluded: "Contrary to popular opinion, our analysis suggests that the best use of the site is as a commercial led opportunity in some shape or form, unless significant concessions to the affordable element of the residential
scheme can be made through the planning process.
"As a result of this viability conundrum we would expect interest from residential developers to be highly conditional on planning.
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"This could open up the possibility for a commercial investor/developer to acquire the site and retain some, if not all, of the jobs that would otherwise be lost."
Delphi announced in August 2017 it would cease manufacturing during 2020 and dispose of the site after deciding to relocate to eastern Europe.
The site currently employs around 500 highly skilled engineering staff and has capacity to employ more than 2,500 people.
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The South Suffolk Taskforce was established after the announcement of the Delphi closure.
Chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, it includes representatives from town, district and county councils and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Babergh District Council and the LEP have been trying to generate interest in the site from an employment-led occupier rather than see it broken up for housing.
But the taskforce said it recognised the viability of keeping the site as single industrial use would be "a significant challenge" and that other mixed-use options would have to be considered.
Mr Cartlidge said: "I know workers at the Delphi plant remain understandably worried about their future.
"I want to reassure them that every member of the taskforce is aware of that anxiety and is working hard to look at what can reasonably be done to find a buyer who preserves as many of the remaining jobs as possible."
"I believe that publishing the Options Appraisal document shows how we are looking in depth at what can be done to support the site.
"Most importantly, it must be stressed that a document like this has to be impartial and look at every conceivable outcome - including residential development - and I understand that some staff may find that alarming.
"However, the positive news is that the research shows that even if the site were not sold as one single industrial concern, using the site for multiple commercial users would be an eminently viable option."
John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council, said: "The Delphi site has provided skilled, well-paid jobs for the people of Sudbury for many years and we're committed to seeing the site continue to support local employment.
"Sudbury offers a well-connected, good value location with a dedicated and talented workforce and as part of the taskforce, we'll be working hard to attract investment to this site and others across the district, for the benefit of our local economy, community and businesses."
Chris Dashper, head of programmes at New Anglia LEP, added: "It's really important that we find the right kind of industrial activity to take advantage of this excellent site and highly skilled workforce.
"The study which we hope to publish in the autumn, along with the work the LEP are doing with DIT to promote the investment opportunity of the site, is crucial to achieving our aim and embedding the commitment of the South Suffolk Taskforce to reach a successful outcome for all partners involved."