Ipswich Borough Council set to turn former sugar factory site on Sproughton Road into industrial park

David Ellesmere at the former British Sugar site.

David Ellesmere at the former British Sugar site. - Credit: Archant

The former British Sugar site is set to be turned into a multi-million pound industrial/distribution park, creating hundreds of jobs, it can be revealed today.

Ipswich Borough Council has agreed to buy the Sproughton Road site after the plans were approved by the executive committee, and the exchange of contracts is “imminent”.

There are no confirmed occupiers for the land, but the council is confident its location next to a junction on to the A14 and the possibility of building a new rail line into the site make it a good prospect.

It is anticipated “dozens of companies” will be attracted to the site, potentially creating “hundreds, if not thousands” of jobs, a council spokesman claimed.

The 130-acre site has been vacant since the British Sugar factory closed in 2001 but the former silos remain, a reminder of its industrial past.

The site is just outside the borough boundary – in Babergh district – and one of the reasons Ipswich Council hopes to buy it is to safeguard the town centre.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said: “This is a very important industrial site for the town and the whole area, it is four times the size of Futura Park (the former Crane site where Waitrose/John Lewis At Home opened two years ago).

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“We see it as providing vital space for new industries and to create new jobs – and we wanted to ensure there was no pressure to turn it into a retail park which would have been very bad for the town centre.”

The plans were approved by the borough’s executive during a closed session of its meeting, however conservative group leader Nadia Cenci opposed the decision.

She said: “It is risking millions of pounds not knowing exactly what needs to be done and what the environmental implications might be for that site.

“They don’t know for certain who would buy or rent. It’s playing casino with the taxpayer’s money.”

Ms Cenci said the Conservatives would love the area to be developed but think it should be by private developers.

“It may very well be beneficial for the town but they are taking a risk. It depends who you think should be buying land like that, are Ipswich Borough Council in the business of property speculation on a land that is just outside our borough? I don’t think so.

“We should leave it to see who might be interested in this site and I don’t think we have done that.”

There was a bid for a mixed development including homes and business space 10 years ago – but this was turned down because the land is earmarked for industrial development.

The cost of the purchase would not be revealed, but it is thought to run into several million pounds.

A borough spokesman said it is seen as a strong investment, and they believe that with local ownership and marketing, it will provide a significant dividend for the authority in the years ahead.