Go-ahead for Gateway 14 business park and creation of 3,000 jobs
- Credit: GLASS CANVAS/GATEWAY 14 LTD
Major plans for a commercial and business park off the A14 near Stowmarket that could bring up to £250million in economic benefits and 3,000 jobs have been given the green light despite a swathe of objections.
Mid Suffolk District Council’s development control committee granted planning permission by six votes to two for the authority’s flagship Gateway 14 scheme to go ahead.
It will mean a 156-acre site between the A14 and A1120 transformed for employment and commercial use, and will join with the ports in Felixstowe and Harwich as part of Freeport East.
There were though objections and significant concerns from 71 residents, local councillors, Creeting St Peter Parish Council and the Gateway 14 Residents Campaign Group.
These included traffic impacts, potential for HGVs to attempt to use narrow back roads in Mill Lane or through residential areas in Creeting St Peter and Cedars Park, and significantly reduced landscaping around the edge of the site.
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A development brief created several years ago indicated landscape buffers would be 40metres wide, but this has dropped to 20m.
Rachel Crick from agents Avison Young on behalf of applicants Mid Suffolk District Council and Jaynic, said it would “create a sustainable and high quality business and logistics park generating thousands of jobs”.
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“The site benefits from Freeport East status which will establish Gateway 14 as a hub for trading and investment,” she added.
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said there was already a “strong pipeline of businesses that are ready and interested in coming here” and described it as “the most important commercial development in Suffolk for some years” that would be a “clear signal Suffolk is open for business”.
Additional conditions were attached to the planning approval, which requires the developers to engage with Stowmarket Town and Creeting St Peter Parish councils to be involved in discussions about where the £190,000 contribution for active travel and recreational facilities is spent.
It has also asked the reserved matters – the elements around design, layout, landscaping and appearance – that must come forward at a later date for approval to demonstrate an awareness of the concerns raised by the communities in Creeting St Peter and Cedars Park over the landscaping screening at the edges of the site.
A plan is also expected to confirm that construction traffic will not use roads in those residential areas.
Lynne Jardine from the parish council said the authority did not object to the principle of development there but said that “insufficient steps are being taken to mitigate the impact on the parish” and “there are concerns about the lack of community benefit”.
Russell Stott from the Gateway 14 Campaign Group said that “the applicant and Mid Suffolk District Council have largely ignored out points, which is especially embarrassing for a council-led development”.
Other questions included the amount of warehousing expected on the site and whether that would generate the high-quality jobs anticipated, and public perception of the council making a decision on an application it is behind and on land it owns.
Committee member Barry Humphreys said the community concerns had been recognised, and conditions would help address their fears, but said that “to not do this right now, in my mind, is to not serve the community”.