Ikea boost for west Suffolk

A MILLION-pound road deal could pave the way for 300 new jobs and the creation of the region's largest building.Plans lodged by Swedish furniture giant Ikea to build a giant warehousing and distribution centre at the...

A MILLION-pound road deal could pave the way for 300 new jobs and the creation of the region's largest building.

Plans lodged by Swedish furniture giant Ikea to build a giant warehousing and distribution centre at the Shepherd's Grove Industrial Estate at Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, have hinged on a special deal between the firm and St Edmundsbury Borough Council involving road improvements in the area.

Called a 106 agreement, Ikea and the council have now reached an agreement and the deal is set to be rubber stamped by the council next Thursday.

It means Ikea has the all clear to go ahead and build its new warehouse centre - and it could also mean the long fought for bypass at Great Barton is back on the cards, according to a leading councillor.

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The new warehouse, earmarked for the Shepherd's Grove Industrial Estate, Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, will be almost 115,000 square metres with additional offices car parks and service areas. Ikea claims it will also create 300 new jobs for the area.

At more than twice the size of Stansted Airport's main terminal and capable of accommodating 17 Portman Road (Ipswich Town) grounds, the new warehouse will become East Anglia's largest structure.

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However, villagers in nearby Great Barton, where most of the traffic will pass through, have not secured a bypass for their village.

But Derek Firth, Great Barton parish council chairman, said the news of the go ahead would now put the Great Barton bypass back on the agenda.

“If we get a bypass we will be happy,” he said. “The traffic is terrible particularly during the rush hour and the Ikea store is bound to make it worse.”

Resident Robin Gunn reflected the council's view with the hope they might receive a bypass but added the jobs boost was welcome.

He said: “I think the people would be probably quite happy because it will bring jobs but there is a concern about the amount of traffic coming through the village.”

Michael Trevitt said the village needed a bypass because the road was dividing the village.

He said: “It is a big problem especially when you consider the size of the Ikea lorries. The traffic is already damaging our flint buildings and I think we can expect more of that.

“There is no way round the village and this traffic is going to split the village even more, even with traffic calming measures.”

Ikea bosses remained tight-lipped about when the building work is to start or how much the will cost but welcomed the deal, which is the culmination of three years of work by the company.

A spokesman for Ikea said: “We are satisfied villagers wont find the building disruptive. This will be our fourth UK distribution centre and we chose the area because it is close to the east coast ports.”

Councillor Guy McGregor portfolio holder for roads and transport criticised the use of lorries to deliver the goods to the centre.

He said: “This development was approved before we came to power. We've done our best to get the most money for Great Barton to compensate for the lorry movements but whether it is enough I have my doubts.

“A bypass for Great Barton is certainly back on the agenda for the council and we are looking at ways of relieving the village.”

The boost follows a string of bad news for jobs in west Suffolk with 380 losses at Grampian country Pork in Elmswell near Bury earlier in the month and 50 losses at Glenfield Textile Services in Haverhill, which went into administration on Friday.

Haverhill is also still reeling from the loss of 86 posts at Grampian Country Pork in nearby Little Wratting and 300 job losses incurred after town based Workspace Office Solutions went into administration.

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