The development of Eastern Gateway – the Ipswich Borough Council-owned business park on the former sugar beet site at Sproughton – is moving on apace.
The park is already home to LDH (La Doria) and Amazon, both new employers to the town and employing around 500 people between them.
At a meeting of the Borough Council’s Executive on Tuesday, we will agree to enter negotiations with occupiers for a further three plots on the park.
The potential new uses involve the development of new industrial units, the provision of charging infrastructure for electrical vehicles, and an Ipswich business consolidating its operations at Eastern Gateway.
Between them, they are expected to see 450 more jobs operating from the business park.
On top of these, there will be a significant amount of construction jobs building the new site infrastructure and units.
With unemployment increasing across the country as a result of Covid these new jobs will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Occupation of these three new sites will mean that around 70% of Eastern Gateway has now been taken up.
This underlines what a sound investment Eastern Gateway has been for Ipswich Borough Council.
We have had a clear strategy for the site. We invested heavily in demolishing old buildings – including the iconic silos that dominated the skyline for so long – cleaning up contaminated land and building new infrastructures such as roads and drainage.
We knew that, once that infrastructure was in place, the great location – effectively the park has its own junction on to the A14 – would sell itself to potential occupiers.
We have also successfully gained Enterprise Zone status which makes it even more attractive to businesses.
We did face criticism when we originally bought the site, not least from opposition Conservative councillors who said we didn’t know what we were doing and that this wasn’t the sort of thing councils should get involved in.
They were wrong. It is exactly the sort of thing that forward-thinking, innovative councils, who want to grow their local economies should be doing.
I’m glad that we faced down the doubters, did the right thing for Ipswich, and have helped bring hundreds of new jobs to our town.