Question mark over jobs as plans for former Dairy Crest site deferred
PUBLISHED: 05:30 30 May 2019
Plans for a new retail and business park in Ipswich which could create nearly 200 jobs have been pushed back, with the future of more than 170 existing jobs remaining uncertain.
The East of England Co-op lodged plans to demolish the former Dairy Crest plant at Boss Hall Business Park, and instead build a gym and small retail units.
It also proposed to sub-divide the existing Co-op distribution centre into three units, with one being for a leisure or sports use such as a casino, concert hall, skating rink or bingo hall.
Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee was recommended to approve the plans at its meeting on Tuesday, but instead opted to push back a decision over concerns surrounding the distribution centre.
Following the meeting, East of England Co-op joint chief executive Roger Grosvenor said: "Today we have confirmed to colleagues our proposal to fully join Co-op Group's National Integrated Supply Chain and close our Distribution Centre in October 2019.
"We are speaking individually with everyone who will be affected, and our trade union partners, to explore options including redeployment and redundancy. Colleagues are also being offered the opportunity to transfer to a new Co-op Group location in Essex."
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At the meeting, committee members had claimed that as the distribution centre was still in use, there was no evidence as to why a change of use would be needed.
Councillor Colin Kriedewolf said: "I cannot see on what grounds we recommend we depart from planning policy," he said, and added: "The amount of retail in the full application I think can probably just about pass but the sub-division I cannot see any justification for that at all."
The developers will now go away and revise the proposals before returning to the planning committee at a later date.
Mr Grosvenor added: "We are disappointed that the decision on our application to develop Boss Hall has been deferred. Our proposal for a mixed-use site would provide increased employment opportunities, as well as a small element of retail and leisure facilities for local residents and businesses.
"We will be working to address the concerns raised by the planning committee and are hopeful that the application will be approved at a future meeting."
The Dairy Crest plant closed in 2012, with some of the buildings on the site having been torn down.
Despite attempts to market the site for three years, no deal was reached.