'Strong interest' in massive new business park on A14 near Stowmarket
- Credit: GLASS CANVAS/GATEWAY 14 LTD
Chiefs behind a new 156-acre business park close to the A14 have said there is “strong interest” from businesses – and the site could be occupied in half the time it was originally anticipated.
Mid Suffolk District Council revealed that its flagship Gateway 14 project – a mammoth new business park planned on farmland near the A14 at Stowmarket – had an upsurge in interest from firms after being named as part of the Freeport East status with ports in Felixstowe and Harwich.
And at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on Monday morning, assistant director for assets and investments, Emily Atack, said that it may be delivered in half the time originally anticipated.
“When we looked at the delivery lifetime of this development originally last February when we appointed the development managers, we were anticipating a 10-year delivery period,” she explained.
“Since the Freeport designation has been announced, we are starting to consider whether that actually may be more of a five year period.”
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She added: “We do have a lot of interested parties in the site. We have particularly seen interest in the site increase since the Freeport announcement so we are very confident that there will be strong demand and continued strong demand.
“There are a number of companies we are in quite detailed discussions with.”
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The development was granted planning permission in August, and is anticipated to bring £250million in economic benefits and create up to 3,000 jobs.
But as part of moving forward with the scheme, the council’s cabinet has had to agree to be a guarantor for the public works around highways and water utilities.
That work is in the region of around £2million, and effectively leaves the council agreeing to foot the bill if developers (the council’s own wholly-owned Gateway 14 company) cannot complete the work.
The authority has already paid around £20m for the land, and set aside £17m for infrastructure work.
John Field, deputy leader of the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group, said it was “clear this is a sensible way ahead, clearly it’s good to be getting on with things like the highways work to enable development,” and referenced the Port One scheme in Great Blakenham where “buildings are going up but the highways work hasn’t been done where there are temporary measures in place”.
Conservative cabinet member for assets and investments, Peter Gould, said it “moves Gateway 14 into the delivery phase with the creation of the business park framework and infrastructure, including necessary off-site public works to improve highways and utilities”.
He added: “Gateway 14 is a huge opportunity for our district and is set to deliver thousands of jobs and grow the economy of Mid Suffolk by delivering approximately 2.4million square feet of sustainable business accommodation in a high quality business park.”