Work could start soon on IKEA depot
By Liz HearnshawTHE announcement that building work could soon begin on a controversial furniture warehouse has been greeted with a mixture of delight and despair by two communities divided by the scheme.
By Liz Hearnshaw
THE announcement that building work could soon begin on a controversial furniture warehouse has been greeted with a mixture of delight and despair by two communities divided by the scheme.
Speculation is mounting that bulldozers could start digging the foundations for the IKEA building, earmarked for the outskirts of Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, in the near future.
Talks are “well under way” between the Swedish giants and Suffolk County Council to iron out final planning technicalities and secure a final agreement.
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But opinion among neighbouring villages is split over the warehouse, permission for which was granted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in October 2003.
Some have welcomed the 300 jobs that the building - which will be almost three times the size of the terminal at Stansted Airport - will bring, while others dread the extra traffic disruption they feared will stem from the scheme.
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Jim Thorndyke, who represents Stanton on the borough council, said: “I am not sure how many hoops IKEA has had to jump through, but this (a technicality relating to gas storage) is certainly one of the bigger ones.
“This is one of the final steps to get out of the way, so hopefully from here on in the company can get on with it.
“I have been in favour of this since day one and I am looking forward to work starting on site. It had got to the stage where a lot of people thought they were going to pull out, so I am happier and more confident now that this will go ahead.”
He added: “Phase one will create around 150 jobs, with the same again in phase two. These will be local jobs for local people.
“Hopefully, this will also encourage other businesses to move up to the industrial estate or the start of the redevelopment of other sites. I think a lot of things have been sitting back and waiting for the final outcome on IKEA.”
But villagers in nearby Great Barton, which lies on the A143, fear the warehouse could see hundreds more lorries using the road - and travelling through their community - each day.
They vowed to continue their long-running fight for a bypass, which they said would help ease the problems.
Derek Firth, chairman of Great Barton Parish Council, said: “I think this means the warehouse is now on the way. There is nothing we can do about it other than keep pressing for a bypass.
“The extra lorry movements will not ease the situation on an already over-crowded road.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Talks relating to the legal agreement are well under way with the Borough of St Edmundsbury and IKEA, and we are hoping to finalise the documents shortly.”
No-one from IKEA was available for comment yesterday.