EADT – 12 February 2016
Landowners are refusing to give up on proposals for a massive £60million-plus logistics park in the middle of the Felixstowe peninsula – claiming it is needed to combat competitive threats to Britain’s biggest port.
Suffolk Coastal council though has discarded the plan for a 200-acre site at Innocence Farm between the A14 and Kirton for the time being, and says it has been “removed from consideration”.
The Port of Felixstowe’s biggest need is for more distribution warehouse space and while a 50-acre £40m project to provide almost 1 million sq ft was granted consent last year, it is still not enough.
Its main rival, London Gateway, has an extensive distribution park hinterland of 560 acres with the potential for 9.25m sq ft of warehousing.
Despite the district council’s decision not to allocate the fields at Innocence Farm for industry, Bidwells, agents for the site’s owner, Trinity College, Cambridge, has asked Suffolk Coastal to allow the land to be used “as a matter of urgency”.
In a letter in response to suggested land allocations for the peninsula for the next decade, Darren Cogman, from Bidwells, said the presence of London Gateway “remains a potential game-changing competitive threat” to the Port of Felixstowe.
He said: “The port and Trinity College’s joint hinterland estate remains under huge pressure, there having been no new greenfield employment land allocations for third party logistics since the 1990s.”
While the site granted consent last year within the port for four buildings between 106,000 sq ft and 363,000 sq ft was welcome, the scheme would exacerbate the lack of land as 20 acres of haulage yards would need to be found new homes outside the port, possibly on some of Trinity’s land.
Mr Cogman said the Felixstowe Peninsula Area Action Plan has identified a need for port land – saying “land is required for port-related uses such as storage (including laden or un-laden containers) and distribution” and acknowledges that “such land may need to be located away from the port itself”.
The college has been carrying out feasibility studies and talking to the council about Innocence Farm for six years and a project, even on part of the site, could be brought forward now.
The council though says the site is “of a strategic nature and contrary to the current Core Strategy employment policies.
“It is more appropriately considered as part of the Local Plan Review.”
Villagers are against the development and an action group has been set up, including members of Kirton, Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary parish councils, to monitor the project and ensure residents’ views are put forward every step of the way.
Opponents believe it is completely the wrong site for such a scheme and are worried about noise, traffic, floodlighting, loss of much-needed quality farmland, and the destruction of the rural nature of the peninsula.
They believe the park should be sited closer to the port or on sites further afield.