300-acre business park for Port of Felixstowe will be built in countryside at Kirton

Proposals for a massive business park to serve Britain’s top container port – but situated on farmland miles away in the centre of the Felixstowe peninsula – have been submitted to planners.

Land at Innocence Farm, between the A14 and Innocence Lane, Trimley St Martin, has been earmarked for the 300-acre project, which would be visited by up to 3,200 lorries a day and 600 cars.

It will feature 10 buildings with 10,000 sq m of floorspace, likely to be used as distribution centres for major companies, plus a haulage park and container storage facilities.

A rail head connected to the Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line on the opposite side of the A14 is a part of later phases of the development.

The project has been talked about for some years but has now taken a major step foward with landowners Trinity College, Cambridge, starting the formal process and hoping for an early grant of planning permission from Suffolk Coastal council.

Villagers in Kirton – the closest community – are particularly worried about the plans, which include a roundabout for car traffic just yards from Trimley St Martin Primary School in Kirton Road.

Parish councillors are currently putting together a letter opposing the plans – with the main concerns being unused existing brownfield sites in the port area; “unjustified and unrealistic” land demand; fears over traffic congestion and the impact on the village community and businesses.

Lorries will enter the site from Croft Lane – the Brightwell turning on the A14 – and in the longer term there will be a new junction on the dual carriageway and underpass to connect with the rail head.

Bidwells, agents for Trinity College, said the contact with Suffolk Coastal was part of the pre-application process, and for consideration of the topics of a scoping report for an environmental impact assessment, due to the growing pressure for more logistics capacity that it is anticipated for the Port of Felixstowe.

Almost all land in and around the 700-acre port complex has been exhausted and so the hunt has turned to sites outside the port and inland – the Innocence Farm site being five miles by road from the dock.

Andrew Blackwell, a partner in Bidwells, said: “Before the ideas that inform the sketch layout are further progressed, with commissioned technical studies, Trinity welcome an early meeting with Suffolk Coastal District Council to explore scenarios that range from the 2009 scheme to the most recent.

“Upon mutual agreement on this matter, technical studies can then be advanced and the layout plan progressed in more detail.”

Mr Blackwell said the steady growth in port operations over recent years and the terminal’s need to handle ever larger vessels is placing “intense pressure” on the port owners to source new areas for third-party logistics in and around Felixstowe.

He said: “Fresh areas for this are essential for the continued prosperity of the port, its core activity and the employment that it generates.”

The new business park will be surrounded by a landscaped earth bund up to 10m high and 50m wide.

Richard Cornwell

13th January 2017