Rail freight plan for East Anglia

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A new multi modal distribution park has been planned for East Anglia on a 112-acre site in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

An outline planning application for 1.3 million sq ft of warehousing and industrial space has been submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council on the site adjacent to Junction 50 of the A14.

The developer, Stowmarket Multi Modal Distribution Park, says the principal activity of the completed development will comprise the repacking and redistribution of goods arriving by road and rail from the Haven Gateway Ports, including Felixstowe and, eventually, Harwich International Container Terminal.

It will include a series of five buildings ranging from 100,000 sq ft to 650,000 sq ft, rail sidings, container storage, HGV and vehicle parking areas, surface water attenuation ponds and structural planting.

The scheme is expected to be fully operational in 2016, and will employ around 1,360 staff operating 12-hour shifts (four days on and four days off).

A similar plan on the site was put forward in 2001 and then again in 2003 but withdrawn due to the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment. At the time there was stiff opposition from residents in the area.

The Cedars Park Residents association formed a small committee to fight this application and nearly 500 letters of objection were received by Mid Suffolk District Council when the application was made.

Needless to say the residents are opposing the new application just as strongly and have the support of local Conservative MP David Ruffley. Mr Ruffley has launched a petition for residents on his web site.

He said: “I opposed this proposed development when it was first mooted in 2003 and I oppose it now. I share the concerns of local people about having a facility of this nature on their doorstep.

“Of course commercial development is necessary but a degree of common sense must be employed when deciding on a location. This site, so close to the Cedars Park estate, is not suitable for a scheme of this nature.

“This scheme will generate additional HGV traffic on the A14, together with vastly increased noise and pollution. Questions need to be asked about how environmentally friendly this initiative is.

“As an MP. I am always told that major developments will create ‘jobs in the area’ to that I say two things – firstly will it really be over 1,000 jobs? Secondly will these jobs be for local people or those out of the area?”

The opposition group have also drafted a letter for residents to download and send to the council expressing their concerns.

The website also carries a warning to residents about the scheme, its scale and how it would work. It says: “This is a 24 hour, 365 day a year operation, involves the shunting of containers by rail, (usually noisy diesel engines carry out the shunting), a very substantial increase in the number of heavy goods vehicles on both local roads and the A14, day and night, (the last application asked for parking for 200, plus 300 cars). Bright lighting required to work at night, a massive warehouse, (12 acres last time) and usually an eyesore. etc etc. We believe that this type of operation would have an immense detrimental impact forever on our way of life and the surrounding villages.”

Bidwells has been employed as master planner for the site.

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