Following its latest public meeting on Friday 19 July, attended by senior management from Delphi, the South Suffolk Taskforce has published the findings of an options study into the future of the Delphi Industries site in Sudbury, compiled by consultants Carter Jonas.
Set up to look at the local economy in its entirety, as well as at the Delphi situation, the taskforce chaired by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge includes representatives from town, district and county councils as well as the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
At the taskforce’s request Babergh District Council commissioned an options appraisal study into the future options for the Delphi Technologies site which has now been completed by consultants Carter Jonas and made available to the group.
The report appraised a range of potential options for the 9-hectare Delphi Technologies site, situated off Newton Road in Sudbury, following the announcement in 2017 of the plant’s phased closure. The taskforce’s shared priority, supported by the report findings, is to see the Delphi site re-used for industrial purposes with the aim of preserving economic benefit for Sudbury and surrounding area; and has therefore welcomed the opportunity to discuss this in more detail Delphi’s management.
However, the taskforce has also recognised that the viability of delivering a single industrial use site may be a significant challenge and highlights that support may be available via the range of partners involved in the taskforce.
In addition Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are planning to commission a workspace study, to gather evidence around local demand and the types of employment space businesses need across the districts, which it will report back to the taskforce in the autumn.
The group is continuing to seek opportunities to work in partnership with businesses and agencies towards securing suitable alternatives for the significantly scaled site.
South Suffolk MP, James Cartlidge, said:
“From the correspondence I receive I know that workers at the Delphi plant remain understandably worried about their future. I want to reassure them that every member of the taskforce is aware of that anxiety and is working hard to look at what can reasonably be done to find a buyer who preserves as many of the remaining jobs as possible. That said, these matters are extremely complex and any negotiations to buy the site are subject to commercial confidentiality so there is always a limit on how transparent stakeholders can be. In that context, I believe that publishing the Options Appraisal document shows how we are looking in depth at what can be done to support the site.
Most importantly, it must be stressed that a document like this has to be impartial and look at every conceivable outcome - including residential development - and I understand that some staff may find that alarming. However, the positive news is that the research shows that even if the site were not sold as one single industrial concern, using the site for multiple commercial users would be an eminently viable option.
Indeed, in evidence to the taskforce on Friday a leading commercial surveyor based in Sudbury confirmed what I am hearing at every business meeting in the town, which is that there is a lack of space for existing firms to expand into, and that a new site with numerous plots could be attractive and very much strengthen, the town’s economy”.
Cllr John Ward, Babergh District Council’s Leader, said:
“The Delphi site has provided skilled, well-paid jobs for the people of Sudbury for many years and we’re committed to seeing the site continue to support local employment. Sudbury offers a well-connected, good value location with a dedicated and talented workforce and as part of the taskforce, we’ll be working hard to attract investment to this site and others across the district, for the benefit of our local economy, community and businesses.”
Chris Dashper, Head of Programmes at New Anglia LEP, said:
“It’s really important that we find the right kind of industrial activity to take advantage of this excellent site and highly skilled workforce. The study, along with the work the LEP are doing with DIT to promote the investment opportunity of the site, is crucial to achieving our aim and embedding the commitment of the South Suffolk Taskforce to reach a successful outcome for all partners involved.”
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