Ikean plans for Suffolk still on track

MANAGERS at the world's largest furniture centre have allayed fears that job cuts in Northamptonshire will affect plans to move to Suffolk.Staff at Ikea in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, were last week told that 50 jobs were to go after a 20 per cent downturn in work.

MANAGERS at the world's largest furniture centre have allayed fears that job cuts in Northamptonshire will affect plans to move to Suffolk.

Staff at Ikea in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, wwere last week told that 50 jobs were to go after a 20 per cent downturn in work.

But the company's property manager revealed this would have no impact on the multi-million pound plans to open a huge warehouse, creating 300 jobs in Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds.

Paul Jacobs said: "Our plans for Stanton will be not affected at all by the job cuts in Thrapston.


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"The Stanton development is part of a much wider and long term plan with three or four stores opening throughout the United Kingdom."

The cuts at the distribution centre in Thrapston, where 234 people are employed, were blamed on the amount of time it takes to get planning permission.

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But it has not stopped the company from pushing ahead with the 115,000 sq m development - making it the region's biggest building.

Mr Jacobs said he hoped the plans would be discussed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in June and, if approved, the store could be up and running within 12 months.

A spokeswoman for the borough council said technical details of the proposals were still under discussion and no date had been set for the item to be included in a development and control committee meeting.

The proposals continue to divide the local community.

Stanton borough councillor, Jim Thorndyke, said: "I would still very much welcome the plans and most villagers in Stanton are for it. I have had people ringing me up asking about employment."

But in neighbouring Great Barton, there is more concern about the expected increase of traffic caused by the development with lorries using the A143 to get to and from the A14.

Leader of the Great Barton Action Group, Fred Rutherford, said: "We are not against the Ikea store per se but it is still lacking the infrastructure to support it.

"We are keeping the campaign going and a number of our members have now been elected on to the parish council so we can combine activities."

Mr Rutherford claimed that there was no employment need in the immediate area for IKEA and that the vast majority of workers would come from Ipswich and Thetford.

Great Barton Parish Council organised a public meeting last May after it was revealed there could be an extra ten HGV vehicles using the road every hour and three extra lorries at night if the IKEA plans went ahead.

There were also fears that the structure of houses close to the road would be damaged.

The developers have tried to allay these fears by including a new roundabout and link road from the A143 in the plans.

A study, by planning consultants Entec UK Ltd, has shown that more than 2,000 lorries will be using the A143 road by 2004 but it is claimed only 13 per cent would be caused by the IKEA store.

The concern growing about the amount of heavy goods vehicles running through villages has seen Great Barton join up with five other six parishes in a bid to lobby Suffolk County Council for improvements.

Residents in Ingham, Ixworth, Ixworth Thorpe, Barnham and Thurston all hope their joint efforts will boost their campaigning.

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