Battle to stop business park on edge of village finally over
PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 May 2020
Council officials have put the final nail into the coffin of a controversial plan to create a 165-acre port business park after a decade-long battle by campaigners to stop the project.
The site at Innocence Farm, on the edge of Kirton, was identified to help address the shortfall of land at the growing container port back in 2009.
It immediately roused the anger of residents but those behind the project assured the community it was many years away – if ever.
But over the years reality has crept closer with the site behind homes in Kirton Road and between the A14 and Innocence Lane eventually being included in the area’s Local Plan.
Campaigners – led by Kirton and Trimley Community Action Group (KATCAG) and local parish councils – fought the inclusion at a public inquiry and won when inspector Philip Lewis rejected it, describing the project as as “ambitious and optimistic” and said there was already enough unused land available at the 700-acre port complex and at nearby Clickett Hill for the terminal’s needs.
Now East Suffolk Council has taken action in line with the inspector’s requests – and has formally removed the designation of the land from the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan.
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In the current consultation on the modifications to the plan, all reference to Innocence Farm is deleted.
Mr Lewis said in his inquiry report: “I find that the Innocence Farm allocation is not adequately justified and it has not been shown that the proposal can be delivered over the plan period.
“To address the shortcoming would not be a quick or straightforward matter to resolve as it would involve, amongst other things, detailed work regarding the access to the site.”
The work would have included 50-acres of landscaping plus a new A14 junction – and possible railfreight link – but Mr Lewis said this had not been designed, costed and no funds set aside.
It would be needed ahead of the business park and he had “severe concerns as to whether the proposed allocation is deliverable”.
East Suffolk Council says people have until July 10 to comment on the proposed modifications to the plan, which will shape the future of the district to 2036.
David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning, said: “I would encourage people to respond to the consultation on the modifications because once adopted, the Local Plan will be the starting point in determining future planning applications and ensuring new developments are properly planned and of the highest possible quality.”
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