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New biz park could ‘wipe out’ villages’ character

PUBLISHED: 12:53 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:53 11 September 2018

Villagers are fighting to stop land between Trimley St Martin, Kirton and the A14 - just behind these houses and the farm shop - being turned into a 300-acre logistics park Picture: ARCHANT

Villagers are fighting to stop land between Trimley St Martin, Kirton and the A14 - just behind these houses and the farm shop - being turned into a 300-acre logistics park Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Should 300 acres of farmland on the edge of Felixstowe be allocated for a 24-hour port business park?

Looking towards the sea, along the line of quays of the Port of Felixstowe - could the port's ships or rail line work be causing night-time noise? Picture: MIKE PAGELooking towards the sea, along the line of quays of the Port of Felixstowe - could the port's ships or rail line work be causing night-time noise? Picture: MIKE PAGE

That’s the question which residents are debating because Suffolk Coastal council has earmarked the land for the use in the new draft Local Plan.

Council officials say the site is needed to ensure the future viability of the Port of Felixstowe.

But villagers in Trimley St Martin and Kirton say it will “wipe out” the character of the two Domesday Book communities.

The development – the size of 200 football pitches – will include warehousing, haulage yards, lorry parking and logistics centres, along with cafes and truck stop facilities.

Sunny afternoon as a giant container ship is unloaded in the port of Felixstowe Picture:: TERRY PLUMMERSunny afternoon as a giant container ship is unloaded in the port of Felixstowe Picture:: TERRY PLUMMER

It’s far more land than the port needs and residents say it is unsuitable, too close to homes and a school, and there are other sites which could accommodate the project.

A public meeting to discuss the plans and separate proposals for more large-scale housing in the Trimleys is to take place tomorrow, Wednesday, September 12, at 7.30pm at Trimley Sports and Social Club.

The Kirton Land Grab campaign said: “Both would eat up vast tranches of prime agricultural land and would have knock-on effects to everyone living within five miles of the two parishes.”

The land in question is flat farmland sitting between the A14 and Innocence Lane. On one side there are houses (those opposite Trimley St Martin Primary School).

The port is set to grow in the next 20 years Picture: TERRY PLUMMERThe port is set to grow in the next 20 years Picture: TERRY PLUMMER

Campaigners say the increase in traffic would be “colossal”, along with air, noise and light pollution, and say Suffolk Coastal council has not taken into account the impact on residents.

Analysis suggests 3,200 container lorries and 600 cars would visit daily, while long-term plans would include and underpass rail link to the new dual Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line on other side of the A14.

More than 600 people have already signed an on-line petition against the proposals.

A council-commissioned study shows the land owned by Trinity College, Cambridge, is much bigger than the port needs – but feels it is the best option, especially as several other potential sites are too far along the A14 corridor to appeal to businesses.

The port’s main competitors already have large on-site logistics parks, which are essential to the success of the way ports now work.

Suffolk Coastal said: “Ensuring that there is sufficient infrastructure to support the Port of Felixstowe will be fundamental to the continued success of the employment area.

“Alongside the policy for the Port of Felixstowe this plan also allocates a large area of land at Innocence Farm, close to Trimley St Martin and Kirton, for employment uses to support the continued viability of the Port of Felixstowe.”

The port already has plans for a huge logistics centre within its own boundaries and for further expansion at Christmasyard Wood in Trimley, and the council admit that the Innocence Lane site would be “well in excess” of land needed for the whole of the district. In addition 100 acres of development land called Gateway 14 has recently been announced alongside the A14 near Stowmarket which would support the port. Despite this the council believes the land at Kirton and Trimley St Martin should be developed.

The council said the need for additional land reflects the important economic role played by the Port of Felixstowe at the local, national and international level.

The Port of Felixstowe handles around 40% of all UK container traffic (4 million containers per year) “and this generates a need for port based logistics, transport, haulage and warehousing operations to support the supply chain businesses in the area”.

The suggested site is flat and visible for miles around but the council would insist on substantial landscaping and tree planting to hide it.

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